[EDITORIAL NOTE: While I'm away in Austin, Texas for a few days, several elderbloggers gracious agreed to fill in for me. Today, Frank Paynter, who blogs at Sandhill Trek, titles his guest piece, “Three Ages.” Please welcome him to Time Goes By and be sure to visit his blog.
Thanks to Ronni for inviting me to be a guest blogger on Time Goes By while she's taking care of business.
We are given three ages: childhood/youth, which as we know is wasted on the young; maturity, an indeterminate period that separates the first from the third; and, that third age, old age.
I was proud of myself for figuring that out. (Although it didn't take much googling to discover that it's a modern commonplace). My reference model had been Shakespeare's As You Like It, and he posits seven ages of man:
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players,
They have their exits and entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice
In fair round belly, with good capon lin'd,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
And so he plays his part.
The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side,
His youthful hose well sav'd, a world too wide,
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again towards childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
But that's too granular, too complex for a blog post. I'd rather collapse it to three ages: the dependency of youth, the responsibility of maturity, and the seasoned existence of an older age.
Born toward the end of WW2, my high school class of 1963 was transitional. We were the last pre-post-war-baby-boom kids and we grew up with the boom right on our heels. Most of us, I think, self-identified as boomers. I know I did. There are millions of us boomers, unique snowflakes piled deep across the American demographic landscape. We know we're unique, but from a distance, we all look the same. Now, in the first decade following "the American Century" we each in our own way face the new realities of shifting past the boundary of the second age into the third age.
In 1905, Gustav Klimt painted "The Three Ages of Woman." What I don't like about that painting is the bowed head of the old woman. Maybe one of the things we've gained in the last hundred years is the ability to lift our heads and look straight at the artist. Certainly Ronni Bennett here at Time Goes By is one of the people helping us to face reality with gladness and a smile. My thanks to her!