When Looking in the Mirror Becomes the Only View

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Posted 23 Aug 2010 in Uncategorized

As we get older, our youthful looks, our strengths, sag in a slow spiral. The truism of life states sagging chins and stomachs are set in stone, etched alongside the law of gravity. No puns intended. The law of gravity cannot be challenged; it is a bedrock of physics. Our aging law happens with variety—not all chins sag the same way. What is sure is that growing old won’t be pretty looking in a mirror.

Knowing tomorrow will not surprise us, we only wonder what remnants of today will remain. Hair will gray or recede, faces will wrinkle, chins will drop, gum lines will recede, breasts will droop. They may find a happy home resting on a sagging overfed stomach. Our remedy is to stay in shape with exercise or commit to plastic surgery. To do nothing, to vegetate, invites scorn from family or friends. I suggest a no-calorie effort: botox injections.

Prescribed pills or medications find a home inside our chemistry. Most notable in the march of physical decline is our sexual functions. Our vigorous days overfilled with hormonal adventure eventually reaches empty. There are no refueling stations. If we want, what better way to inducing sadness or depression is there than looking in the mirror. Tears flow until we need to replenish with artificial tear drops.

Enough of our personal physical evolutionary. Will the same be said of our abilities and our minds? Will they sag and forsake us?

Even in the most vegetative and debilitating physical state the mind still works. My aunt, my godmother, her physical debility limited her to sitting in a living room chair watching TV. Talking with her on visits, I was able to measure the level of her mind’s sharpness: all oars in the water at attack speed. She recalled with clarity my four sons Bar Mitzvahs, noting my son Frank chanted his recitations better than I did. Her words spoke without hesitation. How was that possible? 50 years earlier, I was the studious religious student. How could I dispute her? She listened from a more objective seat at Sabbath Services.

Her mind worked because she read books and talked with friends and relatives. She made telephone calls with arthritic fingers on a rotary dial without referring to a phone directory. Her mind lived 10 years after her body stopped functioning because of pain. My godmother reinvented herself. She changed from a meticulous homemaker to a family historian. Thank goodness for video cameras. Much from family life in Europe was captured in conversation. She recalled a family life beginning about 1875.

I reinvented myself by becoming a writer, a novelist. How you transcend from a finance professional to a writer of biblical issues requires its own thought process. Scott Turow was a practicing attorney who changed to a novelist, writing mysteries about attorneys on the subway ride to work.

On average, jobs while training or studying carry excitement. Once on the job, the glamor fades. Taking a risk to change doesn’t necessarily bring the best rewards, but it does bring the greatest satisfaction.


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