When Did We Get So Old?


… my generation, born between 1946 and 1964, has physical concerns: Friends are dying, joints are aching, and memories are failing. There are financial issues, with forced retirement and unemployment, children needing money and possibly a bed, and dependent parents. But for many of us, it is a psychological quandary that is causing the most unpleasantness: looking around and suddenly being the oldest.

Every generation gets old, but for those who were told we’d be forever young, it just seems more painful. “It’s a huge issue,” says Dr. Anna Fels, a psychiatrist in New York. “I see so many who are trying to adjust their lives to this new phase, which for some reason none of us really pictured ourselves going through.”

Why didn’t we? We knew that eventually more people around us would be younger rather than older. But it still rankles. The image of a room filled with younger people is the perfect symbol.

Michele Willens is a journalist who writes for The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post and The Atlantic. A version of this news analysis appears in print on August 31, 2014, on page SR9 of the New York edition with the headline:  “When did we get so old?


22 thoughts on “When Did We Get So Old?

  1. Seeker, I think that with the exception of the “Great Generation’ who went through the war –which also had the effect of bonding all Americans and other free loving nations–was the first generation–Baby Boomers–who could be singled out as having had a similar predeliction towards viewing the world. Our generation–and I will speak as an American–was solidified by being young and part of the Great American Spring in which civil rights, lost faith in the wisdom of preceding generations and a new outlook about the world in general took place. We are and always will be a group en masse. The music of our generation continues to last as a viable art form and in part our banner through all of those turbulent years was ‘Youth’. Yet it is not so much that succeeding generations have not grown together, but the culture, technology and the Flat Earth have done so much in the way of influencing how later generations had to confront the world. We had bonds, they have had little with the exception of being labeled “Generation X, Y, Z….etc.” We were the first generation and perhaps the last that had clear goals and visions for what the world could be. Unfortunately it also made us naive in thinking the world would change always for the better. Age does play a part–we all get old but there were so many of us that now elderly people out number youth and not the other way around. For myself at over 62 I feel alive and more vibrant now than I did after 25. In my mind I am 30 though the body may tell me different. But it is the mind which is more important at least from where I stand. They say you are only as old as you feel but it should read you are only as old as you think you allow yourself to be. I would not trade places with any that came after my days in the sun. But though for us the sun slips closer to the horizon of dusk I still bask in the illumination that is there and speaking personally the light has never been brighter. I am more creative now both because I have experience and time to pursue new things that give me the opportunity. I see the world with so much more clarity in many ways. Yes, I would enjoy, I think living into my 80’s because I think my best work is yet to come but we accomplish all that we do regardless of how much time we are given. I think I would say I have no regrets and don’t plan on any. Other people do not fare as well as I do in many ways. This does not mean I like the world as it has become. But it is what it is and we must all do the best we can so that in the end we can say with gratitude, pride and honesty, I have lived upon the earth and walked among its people. I could go on and on and this was not a well thought out essay as it was just off the cuff as it were so forgive me if I rambled. Be well as I know you will be because you seem like one of those who do good in this world beyond yourself. Smiles…>KB

    • KB, thank you for your generous comment. You have spoken the beauty of ageing wisely with no regrets. Well said. At 62, that is very young for a poet. In your 80’s by the way you have expanded your genius in writing, there’s always a possibility that you will receive the same honour as Alice Munro at 82. Thank you for rambling on, I am glad this post reached you. Smiling back at you. /seeker.

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