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A reader writes … By Jack V. Adler

September 08, 2001

Well, here I am at 83 years of age and still waiting for the "golden years" to begin.

Have you ever felt like everyone is on the train and you are left standing at the station; or that all the planes have departed and the airport is abandoned, and you are staring at the bare runways?

Well, you get to feeling like that when old age tells you that it's too late to accomplish anything worthwhile that will be accepted by anyone other than your peers who are still behind the times along with you.

Oh yes, I know we can still learn, about like the old dog with new tricks. But if you do learn the new tricks, how long do you have to perform? Time is running out, and by the time you learn them they are no longer new, and few of us enjoy reruns.

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One consolation — you no longer have to compete with those no longer there. Youth gives one time, but you are no longer young and are not apt to be. So just settle down in your senile way and enjoy what people no longer expect from you, until your last will and testament is read. There could be a little satisfaction in having the last word, but it's damn poor consolation when you won't be there to enjoy it; so savor the looks you can imagine on the faces of your heirs now and have a good laugh when their inheritance isn't what expected or they get nothing at all but the expense of ridding themselves of your corpse.

Ah, the "golden years." The guy that coined that phrase is depriving some village of an idiot. I have yet to discover what is golden about them. You don't need anything and you are not going anywhere except to the drugstore to talk to the pharmacist about the side effects of your latest prescription and whether you should spend some of that "gold" for it or not.

Who's kidding who? They talk about the "golden years" and all the periodicals of any value are carrying articles about dying, "Dying on your own terms" "Dying comfortably," "A kinder gentler death." Such morbid and macabre articles are bound to perk up anyone to embrace the few remaining days they have left.

Every moment is golden looking forward to your demise, especially if you have a pain in the back or the gut or anyplace else that tells you that you are suffering from terminal old age. There is nothing "golden" about such a condition, unless it's the color of the booze you pour to help you make it through another day. You don't think in terms of years. You start considering another month, week or day and hope they will be comfortable enough to make you want to continue this seemingly futile existence.

And don't tell me you go straight to heaven. It may be that you go straight to hell, wherever that is, or whatever it is. After all, everyone knows he or she isn't perfect and if heaven is where the perfect are it's going to be very thinly populated.

However, if you like company, hell is the place to go, although it may be a bit crowded, especially during an epidemic, or the flu season, or a war. But if Sherman was right when he said war is hell, and I think he was, then why leave. You can be miserable right here. There's a war going on all the time. And believe me that's where the real gold is, particularly if you are an arms dealer, the most despicable business known to man.

I'm really of the opinion that most people make their own heaven or hell and no matter in what position you find yourself, you are going to enjoy a bit of both; not much heaven, but a big helping of hell.

But do not despair; life is the most valuable thing that anyone or anything can have, much more than tons of gold or anything else that can be imagined. The gold in the "golden years" relates best to each precious moment when you realize how precious few you have left. It is only fitting that the creator has placed life in this most beautiful earth. Here we stand in awe of mountain peaks and seemingly bottomless canyons, of lakes and rivers, of oceans and seas and all the myriad creatures contained therein. As the song says, "Everything is beautiful in its own way."

Then you must give thought and thanks to a generous and benevolent creator that has allowed us the inestimable privilege to enjoy the happiness that life brings, if only for a few moments in time; the blue sky, the clear crystal waters of spring and stream. Thrilling to the color of autumn forests, of spring flowers, the plumage of hundreds of wild birds, their colorful ascent in flight, and their song, music that puts our life in contact with nature, close to God and his creation, all the blessings and beauty of life.

NO! No matter how lonesome we may feel at times, we are not alone. And remember, we belong here. We have a purpose, a niche to fill, even though it may not be clear to us just exactly what that may be. We are here to be just what we are. The creator is a God of love and has given this priceless gift to man, and in various degrees to other animal life as well. There is more than one train to board and planes still fly all over the world.

Thoreau wrote "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." Which is true; meaning no matter who we are, wealthy or poor, powerful or powerless our lives are entertaining stress and anxiety. We are all men and women, having the same wants and needs, no matter our station in life. As the old spiritual says, "We are all God's children."

JACK V. ADLER is an El Centro resident.

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