Category Archives: Writing

Artful Aging

Artful Aging

“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.”

—Eleanor Roosevelt

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Wise Aging Workshops, reads the title in a brochure for fall offerings in continuing education. I had a problem deciding if the workshops were meant to be aging themselves, or they were about doing it wisely. I decided on the latter. That said, the subtitle entices with a directive to Live Your Later Years with Spirit, Resilience and Wisdom. Those are good goals for any time of life, although wisdom is a difficult acquisition for the young, and spirit and resilience can both be a challenge if physical energy is waning in the later years. Arriving in my email one morning with the subject line, “The Key to Aging Wisely”, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that this course was surely about “the aging brain”, for what could control the process of maturation more directly than our most essential of organs?

I well remember attending a lecture years ago purported to be about the secrets of the aging brain revealed by the leading brain doctor at a major New York City teaching hospital. I was surprised to find a young woman at the podium delivering what I assumed would be weighty medical sermon filled with facts and figures about the inevitability of our mental decline and how to live with it. I was also amazed to see a mixture of ages and genders in the audience, a fact I explained with the belief that the younger men and women were worried about their aging relatives who might soon become a burden. But I often find my most cherished assumptions overturned, and must say I rather enjoy the excitement that engenders. And so, listening to whispered snatches of conversation around the room, I soon realized everyone was there for the same reason: anxiety over their own aging!

Well, why not? I was barely middle-aged myself and I already had to search for the right word that had become maddeningly illusive. I assumed I had a dread disease or a mental disorder at first, but soon realized not only my muscles were deteriorating at an alarming rate; my brain was, too. Visions of a crystal bowl filled with paperclips and sundries on my desk kept floating up. How often I’d rummaged around in it, knowing I’d put what I wanted there but unable to find it, reminding me of my own brain quickly becoming just as useless and confused the fuller it got and the more haphazard the arrangement of its contents. Still, I wanted to know how to stave off the inevitable and hoped the lecture might assist. I was not alone, yet few of us felt satisfied that afternoon. There were no magic fixes and in fact, nothing most of us didn’t already know. It was a frustrating exercise. Continue Reading


“There are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” ― Ann Landers When I hear someone say they’ve been thrown a lifeline, I picture a round, white floatation device we used to call a ‘lifesaver’ with a line attached to a savior at its other end.… Continue Reading

Recovery Room

Walking up the block away from the East River, it’s hard to see through the soup…fog drifting in and out, clinging to things invisible with wispy wet tendrils. It reminds me of my husband’s brain tumor, and also the endless days of gray near the shore at certain times of the year. You just start to… Continue Reading

On Becoming “Remusicked”

‘Can we review the future?’ What a question. How can you re-view something you can’t see in the first place? Oh, I know there are people who plan their lives around it and wallow in angst or triumph over what they think is coming, but most of us know that’s a waste of time. Being… Continue Reading

Defining Line

It’s a seductive idea, that there could be a ‘line in the sand’ marking an absolute transition from one thing to another. I suppose it’s the absoluteness that’s appealing in a world many have come to think of as murky and ambiguous. I was reminded of the power of that need for definition recently when… Continue Reading

Pulp Fiction

I can imagine your breath catching when you first saw the title of this blog post. That’s not like Sidney, critiquing the racy stuff, commenting on…well who knows what?  If you were born, or just became a young adult after WW II, your reaction to the label ‘Pulp Fiction’ is predictable, and undoubtedly much the… Continue Reading