I retired from teaching philosophy a few years ago when I was 74. College teaching was a fortunate profession in that one could space out classes and meetings. I finally decided to stop because I realized I was too tired to do justice to my last class of a day. Having worked in tough blue collar jobs summers as a student and from cases among my students, I am all too aware that people doing strenuous physical work may be knocked out quite early and driven to small scale disability incomes that most often will neither support families or mortgages. Not all unemployment is the consequence of absence of jobs.

I was lucky, but getting used to aging (I am going on 77 as of next year) has a wide variety of irritations and moments of great sadness.

I am probably pretty typical in that I am consuming daily pills, pills and more pills for a variety of ailments — pain controlled by a heavy pain killer is my most aggravating.

But it is the sad things that really get to one. As one grows older one loses loved ones and dear friends from the past. I almost don’t dare check on Google to see if someone is still alive. As often as not there has been a death that passed me by.

What can one do to counteract the depression that almost inevitably strikes with such things. I try to keep busy with things that I have to do and also greatly enjoy blogging which keeps my mind working. Years ago on a dare a friend and I exchanged summer courses in each other’s fields — philosophy and psychology. I was teaching from a pre ordered text so that I just needed to keep a step ahead of my students. One of the things that I learned about geriatric psychology is that one’s recall processes get slowed down. One tries to remember some name or detail which is elusive and then it will ordinarily pop up in time. The image that sticks in mind is someone skiing down a hill with a rise midway over which one must push to get on to the bottom.

Blogging keeps my mind active and I have many excellent sources of information that one does not find on TV. Also it has put me in touch with many people with similar interests around the world — in both Israel and Palestine, for example. I have noticed other older ones who have taken up concerns which they promote until quite late in life.

Another course I taught at that community college about which I knew little was comparative religion (at least non-Western religions). Hinduism I discovered, sketches 4 stages of life: student, householder, retired, ascetic. I did spend a summer sharing a third floor porch with a man still considered to be the world’s leading Yogi. He was most impressive and taught me student yoga, useful for staying awake while doing late night term papers:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._K._S._Iyengar

However, I don’t think I buy the last of the Hindu stages of life which seems to consist of doing nothing much other than being a holy man. That is too Eastern for me:

http://hinduism.about.com/od/basics/p/fourstages.htm

Also I am bothered by the reports of the extremes of poverty and wealth in India today — an echo perhaps of the caste system?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste_system_in_India

Despite the efforts of reformers, things are not too great for women in India either:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_India

And so it goes.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

Be Sociable, Share!