Aging: Like wine or like whining?

Contributing Editor Walt Pickut
Contributing Editor Walt Pickut

Aging is not what it used to be. Trust me – I’ve tried it.

The word “Wisdom” used to be associated with the phenomenon of aging. People who aged were respected for it.

Wisdom, however, is one of the rarest words generally heard in the popular media for older people. “Old” is a disease that makes people unpleasant. At least that’s what sit-com writers seem to think is funny. Old people are whiners.

But I say people can age like fine wine instead of whining. A lot of far wiser people than I have already said so.

Sophia Loren, screen actor of Hollywood’s Golden Age, now 86, once described aging, as she saw it. “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
And according to David Bowie, one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, with record sales topping 100 million worldwide. “If you are pining for youth, I think it produces a stereotypical old man because you only live in memory, you live in a place that doesn’t exist. Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.”

So, this week, your Jamestown Gazette – now almost ten years old itself – invites all of our readers to join us in celebrating the growing part of our readership now in the “50+” segment of our population.

Undoubtedly, though, there is some whining that can be done about aging, at least according to Woody Allen whose wisdom often sounded more like a wise crack. “In order to live to be 100, you have to give up everything that makes you want to live to be 100!”

When astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn donated his personal papers to Ohio State University in 1997 to encourage young people toward enthusiasm for public service, he said: “If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years on this planet, it’s that the happiest and most fulfilled people are those who devoted themselves to something bigger and more profound than merely their own self-interest.”
And the desire to do that, to serve in that way, is the kind of wisdom that comes with age.

If you are a Baby Boomer or you know and love one, please read our cover story this week about good living and living well at the age of “50+”. Boomers, by the way, were born between 1946 and 1964, currently between 56 and 74 years old. In the United States, that part of our population now numbers almost 72 million people.

The American Association of Retired People (AARP) offers a simple list of steps to take in aging like wine and avoiding the whining that, for some people, comes with the age.

  • Stay engaged with the world around you and the people you care about.
  • Take care of body, mind, and spirit.
  • Make self-care a priority.
  • Stay in control of your finances.
  • And absolutely, have fun!

Here are the words of two more elders to guide you on your way:

“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.” Frank Lloyd Wright
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw

Take wisdom from the years behind, enjoy the years ahead, and of course as always, enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.