Sunday, May 29, 2011

Euphemistically Speaking

Seasoned citizen, keenager, golden ager, matured, senior. No. I am old. I may be your elder. There is truly no need to find a euphemistic expression to describe my progess through this adventure we call life. I may call myself a coot, but it is not necessary, nor even desirable, that you refer to me in that fashion. I would never refer to an older lady as a biddy. But I might call her old.

The Wesleyan Church has a ministry for people past fifty which they call "Best Years Fellowship." It is an achievement to have arrived at "these years" but if they are the best years, then what of the fifty or more years we frittered away getting here? Every year is your best year. It is the one you have now. The Baptists defer the membership in their fellowship of old persons to age fifty-five, but they designate them "Keenagers." Oh, yes. That is keen.

While we in the Western World tend to worship youth, seeking to hold on to it long after its time in our lives, the peoples of the East seem to have a rather different outlook. They actually go so far as to venerate and honor the old. Imagine that.

Spare me the pussy-footing around it. Call me vanilla, call me David, call me old if you must. But I am not a senior. I was. Twice. In high school when I was seventeen and in college a few years later. I may be keen, but perhaps not so sharp as I once was. What is golden about my age? Silver, yes. I can see that. In the mirror. The truth about this stage of our lives is perhaps best expressed in the final chapter of Ecclesiastes:

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:
In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened,
And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low;
Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:
Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.


Vee said...

Americans do seem to have the need to categorize groups of people using "clever" designations. Generation X? Really?

When Dale was trying to get this concept across to the Chinese students in his Organizational Behavior class, they had a really hard time understanding the idea or reasoning for the labels.

Anonymous said...

What irks me is when people say they are "65 years young" or whatever their age is. Puleeze makes me want to gag.

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

Well, I never believed it when I was younger, but the process of getting old is definitely not for wimps.

jim said...

Glad you feel this way about it. You're right, *this* is always your best year, especially if you make the most of it.

vanilla said...

Vee, and moreover a need to "hang" with the homogenous group to which one belongs, ignoring the existence of others.

Grace, I haven't actually gagged, but I certainly share your aversion to the usage. "America's oldest citizen celebrated her birthday today. She is 114 years young." ackk.

Shark, BBBH is all over that mantra. She says it often.

Jim, indeed. Each day is a gift from God. Hope I learn something during each one of them.

Ilene said...

Vanilla, concerning your comment about hanging with the right age group. In my church, about 30-40 people attend. There are no age groups except for teens, and everyone seems to accept one another, even the teens. Very healthy.
Concerning your post, perhaps the term old is no longer considered appropriate because we think we can't get old. There are "cures" for all of those "conditions" mentioned in Ecclesiastes. Thus we will never grow old. Right? Said with tongue in cheek. See cures here.
False teeth, meds, hearing aids, hair dye, nutritionists, personal trainers, more meds etc. Yet with all these, we are all but dust.