On Age

Anthony and Cleopatra

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety: other women cloy
The appetites they feed; but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies: for vilest things
Become themselves in her; that the holy priests
Bless her when she is riggish.

Act II, Scene 2 Antony and Cleopatra

William Shakespeare

Image: The Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1885

Cleopatra was fortunate indeed, the rest of us may age less well.  But we should embrace age, not resent or fear it.

Physical and mental decline, beyond what is acceptable to each individual, should be dealt with as each of us sees fit.  I have no fear whatsoever of age, even less so of death. But incapacity is a different  matter. I hope for a more enlightened age, where we will be helped to exercise our right to choose the moment and manner of our end.

I have no intention of letting the laws of my country decide for me when I may exit and how.  Nembutal is readily available on the darknet and various books provide viable and painless alternatives.

It is very distressing to see someone in fear of death. My father was what I can only describe as a medieval christian.  In his last few years, I spent many hours trying to comfort him.  He was by nature a fearful man and christian mythology did him no favours. He had a fixation about “limbo” and worse.

His mind was full of Dante Alighieri‘s 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy.  Unfortunately he tended to concentrate on “inferno” and  “purgatorio”.  For no good reason, “paradiso” seemed something he wondered whether he was fit for.

As an atheist I find such nonsense laughable and damaging and I pay no heed to Pascal’s Wager.  My father’s outdated belief system was more of a hindrance than a help.

I have taken age into my own hands. People are dying around me – it happens to us all. I may mourn their passing, but I will not let it destroy my own life. Rather, I will let it fill me with an ever greater determination to rejoice in its beauty and goodness while I still have the opportunity.  Carpe diem. Seize the day.

I will try and be less of a grumpy old misery. I will determine to be a better father and husband.  I will do my utmost to see the best in everybody and everything. I will change my mind.

I am 62 and recognize that I can not change the world.  Who can? I am deeply upset by the plight of most of my fellow humans and would wave a wand if I could; but I can’t.

So I will bury my head in the sand. I will refuse to read the newspapers or watch television. I will refuse to listen to doom-mongers and trouble makers. I will keep out of mischief and try to do no harm. I will refuse to listen to gossips and the vain. I will avoid the negative and embrace only the positive.

I will expand my mind, change it. I will leave the ruts and well worn channels of my thoughts.

And when my end comes, I will hope to accept it with good grace and in peace

Michelino_DanteAndHisPoem
Domenico di Michelino Dante and His Poem (1465) fresco, in the dome of the church of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence (Florence’s cathedral). Dante Alighieri is shown holding a copy of his epic poem The Divine Comedy. He is pointing to a procession of sinners being lead down to the circles of Hell on the left. Behind him are the seven terraces of Purgatory, with Adam and Eve representing Earthly Paradise on top. Above them, the sun and the moon represent Heavenly Paradise, whilst on the right is Dante’s home city of Florence. The illustration of Florence is self referential, depicting the recently completed and much celebrated cathedral dome inside which the fresco is painted. Wikipedia.

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Quite profound. I’m sorry your father was angst filled at the end. I shouldn’t have to be like that. The collective we spend an inordinate amount of time worrying. We cannot relive the past, we cannot hold the future, all we have is right now. That brief time time between heartbeats. I too have had thoughts of debilitation and being a burden. I pray my passing is quick.

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