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Baruch Gould at Volunteer Training

Thoughts on Aging: Growing Old

Posted June 25, 2013

MOWSF Blog | Senior Issues

“Thoughts on Aging” is a column by Baruch Gould, MOWSF’s Manager of Volunteer Programs, on issues related to seniors and aging.

Larry - A Real San Francisco Star“Growing old” is a contradiction in terms. When we think of “grow” we associate words such as “more,” “expand,” “bigger,” and “better.” When we think of “old” we typically think of “used up,” “falling apart,” and “outdated.” Yet, paradoxically, we put these words together all the time when referring to the aging process: we grow old.

In many ways, growing old does mean having to deal with loss and diminishing of physical and emotional stamina. We lose the ability to do what we once could. We lose friends and loved ones. We lose our place in society through illness and isolation. We acutely feel the reality of the words we commonly associate with “old”: used up, out dated, not-of-much-use.

Perhaps a consolation in growing old is the fact that there is “growth” as long as we are alive. We never stop growing even though we are growing toward the end of our life. The consolation resides in the fact that our life is part of naturally occurring  phenomena:  everything has a limited life span in spite of a culture that seems to always want “more”, “bigger” and “better.”

But nothing lasts forever in this world. Oddly, there is a comfort in this if we allow ourselves to consciously realize that we are natural beings following a natural course of all living things. Thus we can help ourselves to stay “alive” while we are alive as we grow toward our end. In this way we find our proper place in an order of things in which growing old makes sense and is the ultimate way to live.