weekly blog--one for the ages
According to a recent article in the New Yorker magazine, from age zero to twenty-one takes about eight thousand days. From twenty-one to midlife crisis is eight thousand days. From the mid-forties to sixty-five, another eight thousand days. And if you make it to age sixty-five, you have a fifty-percent chance of getting to eighty-five, which is about another eight thousand days.
Ernest Hemingway’s description of aging: like bankruptcy it happens in two ways, slowly and then all at once. The slow way is the familiar one: decades pass with little sense of internal change, middle age arrives with only a slight slowing down—a name lost, a lumbar ache, a sprinkling of white hairs and eye wrinkles. The fast way happens as a series of lurches: eyes occlude, hearing dwindles, a hand trembles where it hadn’t, a hip breaks.
In “Gulliver’s Travels,” author Jonathan Swift invented the race of the Struldbrugs in order to imagine what eternal life would be like. Eerily, they were given a precise phenotypic marker, a blemish above the left eyebrow, and were given, too, the ill temper associated with age. Promised eternal life, they were cursed with ever-progressing aging, and were the most miserable people alive.
Answers to two questions that can determine whether you’re going to age well in place: “Who’s going to change the light bulb, and how are you going to get an ice-cream cone? Little tasks become sources of high friction. It’s not that you can’t climb the ladder to change the light bulb. But for the first time you are going to have someone yelling at you, ‘You’re going to fall and break your neck!