That’s a good question, isn’t it? Is old bad? The answers depends on what you are referring to as old and what you mean by old.
I’m thinking about the question because age wise I am right now halfway between 65 and 66. Is that old? It all depends. Some people in their mid-sixties are a lot older than others in the same age range. From my perspective I don’t really feel or act old—very often.
My reading the past few weeks has provoked my thinking about wondering if old is bad. As regular readers of my blog posts know, I have been doing a lot of reading lately about getting older, retirement, old age, and dying. I have listed and commented on a variety of books about these subjects in two posts: https://bobmmink.com/2016/07/13/getting-older-retirement-and-aging/ and https://bobmmink.com/2016/08/09/more-on-getting-older-and-aging/
Every book I read refers to other books about the subjects by either quoting them in the text or listing them in a bibliography. I then order one or two recommended books, read them, and go through the process again. What got my attention the last couple of weeks is that in some ways the older books have been better than the newer ones.
Here’s what I’m thinking about the question “Is old bad?” Not necessarily. Just because something is old doesn’t mean it is no longer useful. That’s certainly true of books; and it’s true of a lot of other things as well—including people.
It is certainly true that some things get old, worn out, and outdated. I’m going to have to replace my cell phone pretty soon because of that. I’m sure we all can think of similar examples. I just think we need to be cautious about concluding something is bad just because it is old.
Here’s a corollary: just because something is new does not mean it is good. Going back to the subject of books, I buy and read a lot of new books only to realize that some of them are not nearly as good as some of my old ones. Again, I’m sure we all can think of similar examples.
Just because something is old does not make it either bad or good; and just because something is new does not make it either good or bad. The challenge for us is to be discerning as we consider both things that are old as well as things that are new.
For those who are interested, my most recent older book is The Reality of Retirement: The Inner Experience of Becoming a Retired Person by Jules Z. Willing and published in 1981. It’s not written from a Christian viewpoint, and has no footnotes or bibliography, but for me it was a great read.
For example, the author suggests we are all familiar with the dictum: No one is indispensable. “But what is incredible, unthinkable, is the realization at retirement that we are actually being dispensed with” (p. 29).
Dispensed with or not, old or not, I don’t think being old is bad. What do you think?
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old guys rule…over what we’re not sure…but we rule none the less. Appreciate your weekly thoughts
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I’m not much younger than you, Bob. Although I don’t have my old youth and vigor, I see my age and experience as valuable tools in navigating the last part of my life.
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Nope, not bad at all. As we get older, we gain so much from our experiences which make us wiser, wiser to the shenanigans, the fake and the real, and in our Christian walk, we grow closer and more knowledgeable.
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As I close in on 50, my concept of what is old creeps further and further away. Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upward is a great treatise on approaching the second half of life not as a decline, but a transformation to a different level of spiritual richness. I hope I can keep that in the front of my brain.
Thank you for interesting readings, triggering thoughts and curiosity! With the late technological advances in medical science and the unfolding discoveries that may extend human lives easily beyond centennials, what defines “Old age” then? It appears to be a moving target! Who’s to say what renders me old other than how I feel about myself… But to answer the question; of course it is good, the older we get, the closer we are to the eternal journey!