Experienced, able sailors responsibly appraise the presenting variables before raising anchor and setting out to sea. Usual considerations include forecasted weather, sea turbulence, scheduled tides, wind and, critically important, the depth of water along the elected route (the latter, often determined by the perusal of “depth charts”) in order to avert the hazards of unseen areas of shallow, potentially dangerous shoals.
By analogy, prudent pedestrians, of all ages, will mind the physical features of their peripatetic route, the distance to their desired destination, take especial note of the weather, surface conditions (wet, icy, bumpy) and are wary of hazards such as major pavement breaks, fallen trees and other visible impediments
Ordinary pedestrian cautions have universal application and are routinely observed with no need for any especial deliberation. It is the plethora of cautionary mandates relative to aging and less agile individuals, (viz., their subjective reaction to them, as impacting personally felt, self -image and esteem) which is the prime concern of this writing.
As we sail through our lifetimes, whatever advantages are garnered in the acquisition of understanding and maturity, in the confidence accrued in one’s accuracy in perception, and whatever level of reason is attained, are, nevertheless, counterbalanced by nature’s inevitable and natural lowering of age’s restraining anchor. This writing is concerned with universally occurring bodily aging and the noted response of previously capable people, to such disabling phenomenon.
We have empirically discerned a variable responsive difference, in degree and kind, in sync with the nuanced persona of individuals, with especial (but not exclusive) reference to the male gender. Men whose esteem and self-image are bound up closely with their physical and sporting prowess will observably mourn such decline in strength and stamina more profoundly, than those who are additionally capable of deriving pleasure from more sedentary pastimes, like reading and hobbies or such non-athletic challenges as painting, musical performance or writing.
Regardless of the etiology and disparate extent of angst, brought about by such natural life changes, the quality of life (not to mention, safety) can best be achieved by a mature and philosophical acceptance of this universal phenomenon, assisted, we submit, by the following life-navigational considerations, salutary for the avoidance of possible emotional descent into the undesirable human shoals of self- despair and frustration.
Since physical decline is inarguably, inevitable and universal, living an acceptably extended life would seem to require that such eternal phenomenon be seen and felt as a fair and worthwhile price, to be paid for its continuance. One might say that the price of admission to the voyage to longevity, is satisfied by an expensive medium of exchange, in the form of such decline in physical or sensory prowess. It is the ultimate realization and acceptance of this eternally perpetual trade-off that is the existential and spiritual balm for aching muscles, and joints, attributable to the process of aging. Such realization is not only therapeutic but functionally, in addition, an expression of gratitude for the fortuitous continuance of life’s singular voyage.
With such reasoning in mind, next in order, is the establishment of individually applicable and rational physical performance criteria, as an antidote to the possibility of reactions of disappointment or dismay, necessitated by such continuing loss of strength and agility. A personal, empirical range of performance measured by one’s changing physical capability, adjusted as he ages, is essential to the rational acceptance of aging’s gradually imposed physical decline. Comparisons made with one’s physical capability at an earlier period of his own life, or with others, should be perceived as irrelevant and counterproductive. It is the mature acceptance of one’s nuanced and empirically demonstrated physical capabilities, and their empirical adjustment as aging progresses, that lends the admirable virtue of dignified acceptance and rational understanding to a smooth and satisfying sail in life’s voyage.
Another unfortunate (and serious) concomitant to aging, is the disconcerting development or exacerbation, of health problems and/or physical disability. Such situations require significantly more effort in their philosophical acceptance and accommodation. The development of limitations or discomfort, in non-lethal occurrences, may, however, be somewhat assuaged by contrasting the same with comparative possibilities, accompanied by worse, or even, life-threatening conditions.
The optimum perspective of the wise and philosophical person, regarding limitations in physical function, however, caused, appears to be one of essential gratitude for those functions which he is, indeed, capable of performance; is a healthier alternative to an exclusive regret for those he cannot. It is the generous franchise of life, itself, that is to be eternally prized.
The maintenance of a sufficiently balanced and in-depth perspective, with such emphasis on gratitude for being a recipient of the singularly valuable franchise of life, above all other considerations will, predictably, be rewarded by a life voyage, featured by clear sailing and the prudent avoidance of many potential deep emotional shoals.