Growing old with love, loneliness, sadness,
happiness, and work
Love. . . What a word!
Here’s my problem with it: I take that word very seriously and use it
only when I have a very strong relationship with anything – you, this,
or that. Many people, if not most people, freely use that word. They
typically use it indiscriminatingly, however, but they still use it many
more times than I could even imagine. Hence, when someone says
“love” to me about anything, I have learned that it really does not
mean what I define the word as meaning.
Okay, so here’s the obligatory definition from Webster: “Love is an
intense feeling of deep affection.”
As I grow old, numerous people who once inhabited the “love” sphere
in my life, have disappeared, some from natural causes and others
just unexplainable, except to say, many of these people have taken
paths that do not intersect with mine and vice versa. Such is life.
For me, I have become more semi-reclusive and solitary in old age,
which most psychologists and sociologist say is harmful to one’s well-
being. I’m not utterly reclusive and solitary, as those whom I love – my
immediate family members – either live with me or are close by. As
far as friends go, I have none with whom I can visit with, as the few I
did have are at least a six-hour drive away.
I am in many ways living kind of a Henry David Thoreau existence.
Thoreau and his Walden Pond story are often misidentified as a
hermit existence. To the contrary, he had many visitors. Plus, he lived
on the Pond for only two years – not his entire life, which is another
frequently misidentified element of his fame.
Like Thoreau, I am also “a sojourner in civilized life,” which is what he
claimed to go back to after two years on Walden Pond. It’s just that
my sojourn is very limited. So, the amount of daily social, face-to-face
interactions I have are confined to only a few family members.
A big part of the reason for this is that I am a free-lance writer. I
interview people on the phone, attend video conferences sometimes,
use email and my smart phone, participate in social media, and chat
online with customer service issues for some of the electronic tools I
utilize for my work – none of these things, as you can see, entail being
physically in the same room with anyone.
I do go out – usually it is to a restaurant or a grocery store, and then
nothing more other than an occasional shopping trip for an article of
clothing I may need or some office supplies. Even that, however, is
converting over to ecommerce. I just purchased a long-sleeve,
Hawaiian-style, tee-shirt for instance through an online store.
Another relatively rare occasion comes when I am lucky enough to
attend a conference that is work related. I only go, however, if I know
I will get some huge learning benefit from listening to intelligent
people give presentations about what they “love” to do. I do not go for
the social interaction. I haven’t been able to do this for several years,
but I keep my options open on this particular possibility.
I do get lonely, but, then again, how lonely, really? Consider this
cartoon I recently saw showing a guy in a meeting pointing to a chart.
Below the image is the following: “Are you lonely? Tired of working on
your own: Do you hate making decisions? Hold a meeting! You can:
save people, show charts, feel important, point with a stick, eat
donuts, and impress your colleagues.” WaHoo!!!
Sadness is another emotion – when you get older it becomes easier to
put enough mental effort into intently thinking about something to a
point where it makes you cry – sometimes uncontrollably. This is an
amazing feat actually – and I think it has numerous benefits. When
you have finished crying, you get a surge of energy and relief with a
renewed mindset that repeats “okay, keep moving forward, keep
going, enjoy.” At least that is how crying works for me. Is this a
symptom of aging? For others, I presume, the mental anguish is too
much and feels more like a burden than an energy booster. Crying is
definitely a complex transcendent experience that can surprise you at
Then, of course, there’s happiness. What really constitutes happiness?
With age I think it becomes more seriously about having meaning;
your significance, no matter how small or large, becomes your raison
d’etre. When younger, insignificant things just happen and are
accepted without giving them much thought. With age they are not
accepted anymore. You want the truth, how it applies, where it was
and where it might be going. Meaning and happiness become your
closest allies. Whenever I do anything that somehow helps anyone, be
it through an article I wrote, or through some kind of friendly action
like the simple act of opening a door for someone, I feel happy.
Last, there are your feelings about work. When will all this BS be over,
and will I still have enough money to pay my rent? How can I do only
what I truly want to do? Should I get on a routine to become more
productive? What do I need to do in order to keep the nature of my
work in a zone that is pleasing – something I can look forward to
every morning while at the same time paying my rent? These are all
important questions that have become more prominent in old age.
So, love, solitariness, crying, happiness and feelings about work –
these are the emotions that seem to grow in significance when we
age. Of course, numerous sub categories fall beneath each (for a later
Thanks for stopping by,