Aging

It seems to me…

My mirror lies. Photographs are a bit more truthful (which is why I do not like them nearly as much). The truth is undeniable – I’m getting old. As I approach my mid-70s, I haven’t any choice but to reluctantly accept aging as being better than the alternative.

Strangely, I’m not normally aware of being older but do know I don’t like it. Age is a thief; it slowly steals everything you valued and enjoyed. I loved to run at least ten miles everyday but the knees no longer are up to it. Hiking and backpacking: the ground is harder, the slopes steeper and the pack heavier. Dancing: several nights a week no longer even sound appealing. I also realize I’m not as quick mentally, not as creative. And sex? Now I understand the old adage “what I used to do all night now takes all night to do” (if I’m lucky).

Perhaps the worst aspect of aging is the loss of friends and acquaintances. Slowly over the years they disappear from our everyday lives. I frequently wonder just what happened to so-and-so. We were close at some point but drifted apart as each of us went our separate ways. Now we might only hear of them again through a mutual friend or an obituary.

My dad died at 94 from complications following abominable surgery. While we were talking about a year prior to his death, he complained he had “lived to damn long”. He was staying in an assisted living home (to be close to my mom who had Alzheimer’s). His friends were either dead or similarly confined. I was on the opposite coast. He felt alone, lost and forgotten. Until he was 90, he still would go either hunting or fishing every day but after a stroke, while he had no difficulty walking, no longer was permitted to drive.

It is becoming increasingly apparent why he felt as he did. Don’t take me wrong, I’m certainly not in any hurry to move on to whatever is next. Everything is changing too rapidly and I’m too curious to see where it is going. I want to see my grandchildren grow up (and I’d like to know my great-grandchildren). I have far too many projects underway that need to be completed. There probably are enough things left to do to keep me busy for at least most of the next century.

One advantage I have over my dad is the computer and the Internet. Now, regardless of where we might live, we can reach out and contact someone with e-mail, social networking, or video phone regardless of where we might be physically located. We have essentially unlimited access to research or literature. And it only will be better in the future; it truly is exciting to contemplate what the future might hold.

Still, whoever said there were advantages to being older was either delusional or a liar. Rationalization? Voltaire might have looked forward to getting older so as to escape his bondage to sex but I like sex. If only there was a Fountain of Youth, everyone over fifty would be lined up for a drink. If you know the directions to that fountain, please share them with me.

That’s what I think, what about you?

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About lewbornmann

Lewis J. Bornmann has his doctorate in Computer Science. He became a volunteer for the American Red Cross following his retirement from teaching Computer Science, Mathematics, and Information Systems, at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, CO. He previously was on the staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, Stanford University, and several other universities. Dr. Bornmann has provided emergency assistance in areas devastated by hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. He has responded to emergencies on local Disaster Action Teams (DAT), assisted with Services to Armed Forces (SAF), and taught Disaster Services classes and Health & Safety classes. He and his wife, Barb, are certified operators of the American Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV), a self-contained unit capable of providing satellite-based communications and technology-related assistance at disaster sites. He served on the governing board of a large international professional organization (ACM), was chair of a committee overseeing several hundred worldwide volunteer chapters, helped organize large international conferences, served on numerous technical committees, and presented technical papers at numerous symposiums and conferences. He has numerous Who’s Who citations for his technical and professional contributions and many years of management experience with major corporations including General Electric, Boeing, and as an independent contractor. He was a principal contributor on numerous large technology-related development projects, including having written the Systems Concepts for NASA’s largest supercomputing system at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. With over 40 years of experience in scientific and commercial computer systems management and development, he worked on a wide variety of computer-related systems from small single embedded microprocessor based applications to some of the largest distributed heterogeneous supercomputing systems ever planned.
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