Defeating the Six Specters of Life: Part 6- The Fear of Old Age
Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life will become a beautiful success.” -Louisa May Alcott
Who’s Afraid of the Inevitable?
Well, almost inevitable, there is no guarantee you’ll make it to old age, but the odds are generally in your favor. And by the way, wouldn’t you rather see old age, than not? Think about that. I look at old age as merely the end of the ride, right before it quits and the operator says, “lift up on the seat bar and exit to the left, please watch your step.” I’d rather just focus on the ride, the end will be here before any of us realize it, but if you’re still afraid of it, lets continue.
The Fear of Old Age…is it something else?
The Fear of Old Age seems to me to be little more than a symptom of the greater fear of death. Napoleon Hill reinforces this suspicion when he mentions that there are two major causes for the Fear of Old age. The first cause is poverty, which we have already discussed here, and the second cause is “the approach of another and, perhaps, a more horrible world than this.” Also known as death, which we’ve discussed here. If you’ve already defeated those two Specters, then what makes this one different?
If I had Known I was Going to Live this Long, I Would’ve Taken Better Care of Myself
Perhaps the concern with old age really stems from the fear of ill-health, which has also been discussed, but maybe there is something to add. In addition to a higher rate of disease, old age offers us the chance to witness our own deterioration. A lifetime of use and abuse leaves many seniors unable to accomplish even basic tasks before they finally pass away. I know several people who have noted in their advancing years that they wish they had taken better care of their health when they were young and thought they were bulletproof.
If you are fortunate enough to be a young person reading this, I would take note of that wisdom of the ages and make your health a priority now. If you are already over the hill, it is still not too late to make healthier life decisions; you will still benefit from them. Once again, this is something that must be approached with the understanding that one can only do so much. There is no fountain of youth, so don’t become discouraged when your morning walks don’t immediately translate into youthful exuberance.
So Where’s the Upside?
The truth is that action on your part is going to be the best defense against this Specter; a mere shift in your thinking won’t cut it. If you do not adequately prepare for your retirement, you are most likely going to experience a level of poverty before you pass away. If you do not take an active roll in managing your own health, you will experience ill-health in old age. And finally, no matter how much you prepare for old age, or how long you manage to stretch out your life, eventually you will die. Those are pretty much absolutes. The only things that aren’t absolutes are what you will do today and beyond.
I’m sure you’ve heard it said that the best defense is a good offense; so go on the attack. If you are lacking in your preparations for old age, then get to work. Look up some healthier recipes, clean up your diet, and start working on an exercise regimen. If you aren’t set for retirement, cut back on your expenses. People say they “can’t make ends meet and still save money,” but oftentimes there are leaks in their finances that they haven’t examined. These are things that you can control, so be proactive.
If all else fails, at least you can take some solace in knowing that old age is a poorly defined, entirely subjective period of time. You may very well be in old age now, but because all of your peers are right there with you, and you are still having a good time, you may not notice it. Or, you may still be relatively young, but due to a lack of activity you are ruminating on the fact that old age is rapidly approaching. If you look at life as I try to, as if our approximately 80 year average life span is just a flash in the pan when compared to the whole period of human existence, then you should already be living with a sense of purpose and urgency. Getting old shouldn’t cause you any trepidation; wasting the time you have available to you right now most definitely should.
Join us next week as we confront the final Specter, the Fear of Criticism! You can subscribe via RSS feed, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter!