My recent blog post on death reminded me that I’m getting on in years. So I decided to rerun my thoughts of the subject written here several years ago. The irony is that what I thought then is even more true today. Here, with updates, is that post.
I’m getting old. No point in pretending otherwise.
I’m not complaining. The alternative to aging doesn’t appeal to me. But the gradual decay of the body is a challenge I wasn’t expecting and didn’t prepare for.
My approach to living is as youthful as ever. I’m very active. I spend my hours—never enough to get everything done—in writing, taking care of my house, reading, and exercising (weightlifting). Until the pandemic put a stop to it, I regularly did public readings to promote my books and gave presentations, lectures, and classes.
For years I was a runner and have always lifted weights, not for health reasons, but because I enjoy it. Then, some years ago, I had botched knee replacement surgery. Now I walk with a slight limp, and running is a thing of the past. But I still lift weights regularly. I can’t manage the heavy weights I used to lift when I was younger, but I heft a respectable amount.
The challenge of aging is that the body can no longer do everything it used to. I’m not as physically strong or agile as I once was. When I do a presentation that has me on my feet for more than an hour, my legs ache, and I have trouble walking. As a result of having survived lung cancer, I have a persistent cough, and I tire easily. That means I have to nap every day, whether I want to or not. Since I’m not as physically active as I used to be (e.g., no running), I have to watch my diet to avoid gaining weight.
I’m lucky that my vision is as good as it has ever been. I don’t need glasses. My hearing is poor, but it has been ever since I suffered ear damage from close gunfire on the battlefield and from being shelled (artillery) during the fall of Saigon. My sense of smell never was any good, so I can’t tell if it’s declined.