By Steve Ostrow
Old age sucks. Things either dry up or start to leak. So an old doctor friend of mine told me when he was 60 and I was 40. And you know what? Now that I’m 76, those words ring true.
I find lately that it’s a full-time job staying alive. Between arthritis, tracheatis, gastritis, laryngitis and many more itises, holding this poor old body together is a chore -¦ but a chore that I gladly accept. Why? Well, consider the alternative.
On the other hand, it’s not death that I’m afraid of. It’s living, if I lose my independence, mobility, capacity to function, or mental alacrity. Which some of you may say I lost a long time ago.
When I was in my teens, getting older was looked upon with excitement; in my 20s, with purpose; 30s, with procreation of progeny; 40s, with power; 50s, with maturity; 60s, with wisdom. But 70s … well, as Shakespeare put it succinctly in The Seven Ages of Man:
-¦ Last scene of all
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.
So what is there to look forward to? OK, I’ll tell you what there is that makes it go for me.
Nature: the vastness of the universe, the splendour of what has been created, no matter who or what you attribute that to.
Family: with all the ups and downs, to know that you leave this world with your genes being carried further.
Friends: the intimacy of loving, caring, sharing and daring.
Faith: a belief in a higher spirit.
Purpose: to be needed by your fellow man for their betterment and your fulfilment.
I won’t harp on the dismal attitude of our youth-oriented gay culture that relegates to oblivion any of us they perceive to have passed their use-by or best-by date. We have been down that track before. And yes, philosophically, there is an acceptance that we all must go at some time. No one yet has broken that tradition.
But when my time comes, I want my passing to be a celebration of a life lived to the fullest of my meagre capacities. And when would I want that to be? When I can no longer receive, recognise or give love.
For I believe love to be the greatest aphrodisiac for living that anyone has ever invented. To he, she or it that created love, my thanks. And may the world recognise and abide with it. I am enthralled by the words of the American philosopher William James, who, in his maturity, wrote, I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success. I am for those tiny, invisible loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of pride.
info: To find more about Mature Age Gays visit www.magnsw.org or contact Steve Ostrow on 9358 1460.
MAG meetings are held in ACON’s Commonwealth St, Surry Hills office on the second and last Saturdays of each month from 6.30pm. Mid-week gatherings are held at the Taxi Club on Flinders St, Darlinghurst, every Wednesday from 6.30pm.