Guest Blogger: Mary Lee Fowler
Guest Blogger: joared

Guest Blogger: Frank Paynter

[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!



Y'all need to know about "urban shaman" Donna Henes and her discovery of a fourth stage of woman's life: The Queen. If you're through being a Mother but not yet ready to be a Crone, you've got to see this.

P.S. I'm also class of '63, Frank, and I always thought we were already in the baby boom. We started being conceived almost the minute WWII ended.

Ah yes, Shakespeare's Stages of Life ... don't know who coined this, but we've come a long way, baby.

You described our life today so well, Frank, we "...look straight at the artist..." with heads unbowed.

I couldn't agree more, that Ronni is bringing to this journey, through your described "seasonal existence of old age," enthusiasm, vitality, and unbridled joy.

Thanks for this interesting post. Ronni sure has some talented "fill in authors" and you are one of the best.

Yes, let's look straight at the artist. It so happens that I saw Klimt's The Three Ages of Woman and that you put words on what I felt then.
Thanks for this post.

No matter what our age or constraints of health and vitality, every one of us must be committed to making the best of what abilties we have from moment to moment. Only then there is nothing to regret.

The entire first paragraph of my previous comment was cut off. The end of the comment, standing there in its underwear looks like something a recluse would say upon emerging from his cave once every 7 years.

My original post said that I'd watched a flock of red-breasted finches outside my window this morning. They reminded me of the picture of your little blackbird today. So determined, bright-eyed, confident and full of chutzpah! I wish I'd had that attitude at that time in my life. What I've learned is that...

I'm embarassed! Right comment window: wrong site! Mea Culpa. I'll get things right yet!

Ronni has the nicest readers. Thank you to everyone for the affirmation I felt as I read your comments.

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