Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought, where they write about ideas and creativity. Diane posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

More on Aging

by Rain Trueax

Recently, we watched a three part series on Netflix-- [Five Came Back]. Take the time to watch it as it was excellent. Yes, it has some brutal segments about WWII (if you want to think Nazis were okay you definitely need to watch the Holocaust photos). It reminded me how much each generation is influenced by the time in which it has grown up. The archival film is of five successful directors of that time and not only their participation in the war but also what they brought back from it in terms of the films they then made.

Born in WWII, I know it impacted my life in a ton of ways-- not only by it but the aftermath for what people learned from it. Because my family had gone through the Great Depression, and talked about it, it also was a factor in what I was taught growing up. This is one of the benefits of reaching old age-- we've seen a lot.

Along with aging's reality of loss and deterioration (biology-wise), there are benefits that I don't think many consider. In the United States, sadly the emphasis seems to be holding onto youth. What about considering the benefits of a long lifespan? Why do so many demean old age? 
 
In some primitive cultures, the old are revered. They are the ones who remember the dry seasons, what might matter when the herds travel another route, diseases that came through and proved devastating. 

Do we really believe that a seventeen year old today knows more than someone who has lived seventy years? Can life wisdom be valued instead of demeaned as so often happens with the elderly thought of as being selfish or senile? Could it be that having seen so many cultural shifts, the old have something to share with the young? This will only happen if the old value what they have experienced.

Culturally, we, at least in my generation, have lived through a lot of changes. I was born when communication was newspapers, mail, radio, movies, and party-line telephone. News was gathered from limited sources and mostly we knew our own community and family for sure-- if that. Living through a time like that puts a unique perspective on a time like ours where news is from so many sources that many end up victims of ADD (attention deficit disorder). Today, we are bombarded by info-- or what defines itself as such.

Family expectations have changed in my 70+ years. I grew up when children were expected to be polite, where the world didn't revolve around them, where adults talked and children listened-- or went off to play. The idea of coming to a time where profanity is praised and someone who is nasty is admired is beyond me to imagine from the perspective of my own youth. Being old means I remember when nasty was not a virtue but a problem.

In my childhood, we were allowed to be a child and adulthood was something to be worked toward and hopefully achieved. Responsibility was taught  through chores and sometimes rewarded by an allowance. I don't know if that still exists but I do know receiving a small amount of money for doing a job teaches responsibility. Not having much money teaches the value of making responsible choices.

Another plus of being a child in an earlier era is we were allowed freedoms that today are criticized by some as they call such to be free range kids. We all were back then. 

Examples: I was able to run over open fields, go into the brush and lie there as
I stared up at the sky. I read books sitting in a big cherry tree, ran to a rock wall to escape a sheep that wanted to butt me. I had my first rifle at 12 because I asked for it as my Christmas present, because I'd seen our sheep with their sides ripped out by dogs and wanted to protect them.

One year, my father, brother and I went to a mountain stream. While they fished, I waded down that stream by myself, climbing over logs, finding spider webs everywhere and finally overcoming my fear of breaking through them. Although I was far from any hope of my parent rescuing me if something went wrong, I relished the freedom. When I wanted to learn to swim, it was on a river and I did it staying in the shallows until I could
feel confident I could swim across. When I did it the first time though, my father swam alongside me. The only time I ever saw him swim. From then on I could do it by myself. The memories of those times and reaching the rocks on the other side, they are always with me as are so many others from those years.

I am not saying children today couldn't experience such things. Some do... Just not as many as back then.

As an old person, I have seen societal changes. Nothing lasts forever is something the old understand better than the young. Having seen a lot of mistakes and successes, I don't think I know it all-- even if I am confident I know a lot.

Less is expected of me as an old woman. That's freeing. We can do what
pleases us more than in those earlier years. When we opt to take on challenges, it's our choice. When some of those challenges lead to failures, we can still feel excited-- like who knew we could do something like that in our 70s. At one time, being old meant moving in with the kids, to an Old Folks Home, or after Social Security, retired. Now it means anything goes-- at least that our bodies allow.

A few years back, I took some time to write my core beliefs. Recently, I came across them and looked them over. I wouldn't add to the list. Have you written down your core beliefs? The things on which you stand? I put them in a blog where I archived some of my earlier blogs (there was a blog before this one). If you're interested, they are at [Age Old Beauty]. 

That's another thing I believe-- that like fine wines or old roses, there is a beauty in old age. It's not the same as youthful beauty but it has a worn patina to it that I consider it's own beauty. If we don't do plastic surgery, our life shows on our face-- the good parts and the painful ones.

 The birds are all from observations at our Tucson home. We had to add the fence for when the cats are out as they regard the fountain as a 'moveable feast.' Watching birds is one of the joys that is possible at any age. I love how they migrate, how they instinctively know when to go and where. Life is really something.

5 comments:

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

We are about the same age and I believe we lived a very different childhood. During my earliest years I lived in rual Northern California but about the time I started kindergarden I lived near the busiest road, El Camino Real, in Berkeley. There wasn't the kind of freedom you experienced. I walked in groups because I was afraid. Later we moved into the ElCereto School District still in the East Bay Area. Between classes I was also fearful of the African Americans who we were respectfully correct to call Negroes back then. The year before we moved to Portland, 1957 ElCereto School District started segregation because of racial gang violence.
A difference now is there is more unrest and fewer children growing up on farms.
Since I was an only child, with no other close family, when my parents did have friends come and visit, sometimes I was the center of conversations with adults, sometimes I joined in on other topics not child centered and other times I went off to do my thing while they visited. At 3 course dinner mother, dad and I every evening had comversations on topics usually about nature, the beauty of our view of the San Francisco Bay, telvision shows, and art to name a few. Politics never discussed.

Rain Trueax said...

Yes, that is different, Diane. My life was very rural. I sometimes find it amazing to realize when I was 5 and began first grade, it was a country school a mile and a half from our farm. I walked it. My mom didn't drive and Dad was a nightshift worker. I think of how I saw my kids or grandkids at five and can't imagine that walk with mostly no houses and either woods or farmland. Mom though did walk me down to where the woods stopped but she had my little brother at home. I don't remember being afraid most of the time although I also sometimes walked with neighbor kids from below the hill. I remember being fascinated by the pollywogs in the little ditch alongside the gravel road. The one time I was scared was when I saw a car coming and was by myself. I started running and didn't realize that it was my dad's car until he got closer. Grandma was with him and didn't like that I was scared but that little school didn't have buses.

Brig said...

A friend and I on a recent evening walk were discussing this very thing. How we wandered everywhere by our selves as kids.
As a grade schooler I rode my bike to school three miles on country roads and had to cross a busy highway. I often rode by myself. It just was what it was. I made grass forts far from the house, fished in the creek, etc. No one worried about me, unless I didn't show up in time to set the table for dinner.
My friend lamented that her grandkids didn't know how to do anything on their own, and had no idea how to entertain themselves without electronics or other devices.
I'm the age I am, 71, and I have gained a bit of knowledge along the way. There is much more of interest in the world for me to learn.

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

Wonderful memories Rain and Brig. My best memories are of drawing,or playing in the dirt where I made small gardens, pretending with neighbor kids to be a cowgirl. Making forts in the grass. Cooked pampus grass on the Easy Bake Stove. Making Jack and the Bean Stock puppets with girlfriends in an interest group led by my mother. On my own I decided to make 3D flowers and animals of paper decorating paper Easter baskets for younger neighbor kids. Camping with my parents.

Rain Trueax said...

My brother and I would create towns with roads in a little cliff behind the garage. I enjoyed that too. Having a brother, I played cowboy and Indians as well as soldiers. No wonder I like to write romances with action :). Good memories too. Kids had to entertain themselves more back then as there wasn't even much on TV to begin.