The Aging project
“Running Out of time”
I am a 76 year old fine art photographer of more years than I sometimes care to think about. I have recently begun a new undertaking I’ve been calling “The Aging Project.” I envision this as a book with thoughts on aging written by my friends, with portraits and documentary images made mostly by me. In my state of denial, this could be considered therapy. The clock is ticking.I hope to publish this as an Apple iBook, working title, “Running Out Of Time.”
I am looking for subjects, around 70 years or older willing to sit for me and talk about growing old. More than that, I hope my subject will articulate some personal issue or aspect of aging with clarity, wisdom, or even humor. In lieu of payment, I offer an archival 5x7 print for your trouble, signed by me, and of course, your by-line.
I’ve received many wonderful thoughts and comments from participants already. Here’s one from Naomi Zucker:
"It's been said that people grow like trees, that all the things we have ever been are still inside us, that, like trees, as we grow older we do not lose our earlier selves, but grow new rings around them. Young trees, like young people, bend with the wind and stretch toward the sun. But like trees, people thicken with the years; we find it difficult to bend and fear that a strong wind might break us; yet even if we can no longer stretch toward it, the sun still warms us. And within us, those rings remain; they are not merely memories, but the core of who and what we are. And like that young tree we once were, we, the old, may yet grow."
We’re not ready to fully embrace aging as a final chapter in life.
From Yve Hines 86 years old, on transitions.
My "aging" began at age 83 as I phased out of a gratifying 50 year career as a New Hampshire real estate broker. A stage of life had come to an end. It was time to "move on"... I moved to Rhode Island, leaving friends, neighbors and relatives.I had not envisioned the daunting necessities of singly rebuilding my life in a new state: creating a new home, all medical support, banks, insurances, auto and voter registration, shopping, personal services, change of address, new phone number, new acquaintances and friends, etc......not easy when one is 84, and always having lived within 10 miles from where I was born.
I've had a good life with few regrets, a long loving marriage to a man who adored me, and very proud of my daughters, grandson, and step children. Here I am at 86........with little to do and all the time to do it.......leisurely read, paint, journal, gather and pass on family history and photos, adult education and exercise classes, assist those less mobile than I am........... ready to welcome whatever comes my way.
Richard Parker, 97 years
We are aging from the day we are born.
When someone dies, our relationships also die.
We all want to leave footprints, or maybe not.
We all know we are running out of time.
Growing old is an Incremental disintegration.
What are you doing in your retirement?
Early memories as a child or teen?
Key moments that have changed your life.
Loss of loved ones, parents, children.
The birth of your children or your wedding.
Are you lonely now? Do you see the kids often?
Are you afraid to die? What will you leave behind?
Is your mobility compromised, can’t drive, no public transportation?
Letting go of friends and our “stuff” is difficult.
What gives you joy? Friendships, pets, walks on a beach
Jean Vican, 77 years
I married into a Greek family when I was in my 20’s and absolutely loved their zest for life…My husband, George, and I had three wonderful daughters, a sailboat and a pizza restaurant. Eventually we divorce but fortunately were able to remain pretty good friends.. George later was diagnosed with a brain tumor with a poor prognosis. He had a girlfriend named Jane at the time. When George’s end was near both Jane and I were with him. He slipped quietly away with both of us at his side. George was a complex but a good man.
Old age brings its share of good memories and bad memories.. As I look ahead I hope the difficult times in my life have prepared me for the tough times that may be ahead. I pray only that I can face them with grace and dignity. With the help of God I think I shall.As one ages there can be an unusual amount of life curveballs along the way.
Naomi & Norman
I have lost many things—family, friends, strength, dexterity. But what I haven’t lost are my words. Words to me are not inanimate, but alive; each word has its own shape and sound and possibilities. Words have been, for my entire life, not simply how I express my world, but how that world expresses itself to me. If I should someday lose my words, I will have lost myself. ~ Naomi
Marjorie Burston’s family history
AS I GROW OLD…I don’t really consider myself old yet, but next year, when I turn 80, I’ll let myself use that as an excuse for all the things I forget. My most noticeable change has been how slow I have become. I used to start my day with a list of at least ten things to do but now if I get through four of them – and that includes laundry! – I feel as if I have accomplished something. Medical issues have interfered too, but some of them are my own fault, like falling off a stepladder and breaking bones just because I wasn’t being careful. The worst thing about aging, though, is losing friends. Several of my best friends died just last year and I still think of them all the time. And, finally, I am very aware of all the experiences I want to have before I die: places to go, stories to write, books to read, artistic endeavors that still reside in my head but haven’t been implemented yet, and how reluctant I am to admit that they may never happen.
One project I continue to work on is a little family history. My grandparents left England to establish a sheep station in Australia in 1880, and they sent my father to this country to go to university in 1912. He saved every letter his family members wrote him right up until he died in the 1970’s, and their contents reflect a very interesting cultural and social history of Brisbane’s development during those years. The Queensland state library wants to archive these handwritten letters (there are about a thousand of them!) and I’m hoping to take them to Australia later this year. So I am attempting to compile this information into a format that remaining family members might be interested in preserving. - Marjorie Burston
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.
What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
(The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint- Exupéry ~ courtesy of Sheila Milton)
Sandy teaches Voice.
THOUGHTS ON AGING, Well now . . . we’re all aging so I guess we’re in good company! I’ve been told that at my birth my mother voiced two requests – that I would have curly hair and that I could sing. And I have sung – mightily – for 8 decades! What’s more, I’ve been fortunate in teaching others the joy of singing for sixty years or so. In working with my older singers, whether in choirs or private voice lessons, I’ve noticed that age doesn’t matter much. The mystery of the human voice, as it accompanies us throughout our journey, is such that we can take pleasure in creating the melody and telling the story. What’s more – at 15 or 50 or 85 – we can give the gift of song to others – erase the worries of their day – and lift their spirits. Even my dog Pippin loves to sing! His aging voice can carry the high notes – “somewhere over the rainbow – way up high.” Sandra Chabot Landay, January 5, 2019
Yes, Of course, i was good looking once.
I still drink too much coffee and I sometimes think that maybe I'll take up smoking again. I believe smoking is my overriding pleasure and at this age, I see no reason to covet health or longevity. I am a stubborn warrior daring my body to break down.. Mostly I am curious about my waiting destiny. I know that I cannot know what that will feel like, only that I want to be ready for that dim day that will either make me a hero or a coward.
Yes, of course, I was good looking once. Well weren't we all? Young, free, full of energy and hope with no sense of time or that there was a limited supply. I had a few daydreams feeling sure they would become real, spending little time thinking that things change, or that I would. Yet, it never occurred to me that my friends would grow old and some would die sooner than me.
Yvette Nachmias-Baeu, January 5, 2019 Excerpt from “BEST FRIENDS” - Lulu Press.
Marylen, age 71, “Aging: The question is do we follow the words of Dylan Thomas, “Do not go gentle into that good night” or graciously accept it and its inevitable end. Aging is filled with choices, challenges and a cacophony of emotions. There is no clear path or magical answer. Just a day by day decision on we are going to live that day.
"Aging is inevitable, growing old is avoidable. Expressed differently, one is never too young to be old or ever die, but one is never so aged as to become old. This is because aging is physical, while being old is mental and spiritual. In my experience one does not grow old if five force fields stay active in daily consciousness: love, health, play, work, and caring for the future." ~ Richard Falk
83 is a prime number
My daughter reminded me, “Mama, 83 is a prime number.”
Avis & Anita
The Gift Of time
Thankfully, this stage of my life has slowed, and I cherish the gift of owning the majority of my time. It was so exhilarating at first, that stretch of endless time; but eventually I realized that by retiring, I had essentially severed my connection to public education, which had been my life’s work. The thought came, if I am no longer a teacher, who am I now? I felt untethered, but surprisingly, it felt good.
Ken sliney, gourmet chef and accomplished photographer,
Helping others is a key in helping me to not think I’m old. I feel like there is a purpose to my life. This means a lot to me in my life. Friends and loved ones will keep you young in spite of yourself and knowing you may have made a difference to someone is a good feeling. Ken Sliney
Generations of performing artists have told us that aging is a process of losing what you once had. Testimony like "The thrill is gone" (B. B. King), "I feel like some old engine, that lost my drivin' wheel" (Tom Rush), and "0h yea, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone" (John Mellencamp), are but a few. Yet what a surprise it is when that really happens to you.
When young you plan your later years thinking of all the things you're going to do when you finally have enough free time. My motto used to be work hard, play hard. I expected that removing work from the equation would result in playtime every day. But, back then I used to go on vacation and resolve to spend one day doing nothing except maybe read a book. Year after year that failed. Every day of vacation was focused on intense activities. At the end the vacation, I would catch up on rest when I got back to work.
Many years later the surprise is, without having to work and having lost some abilities, I'm not angry that I can no longer do the challenging things that I used to like to do. Instead, I can enjoy mellow. I don't miss at all the strain of intense physical activity. I just relax on my porch rocker watching the sunset. - Woody
'half full' is the better way
Vyra, “Age was never been a secret of mine.”
"Age is a state of mind. I'm convinced that if you think you're old...you're old! One does not choose to be born, determine his genetic background, select his parents, or fashion his upbringing. However, that said, reaching the age of reason and enjoying the blessings of living in America, you begin to understand the 'glass is never going to be full' and 'half full' is the better way to look at X years ahead. Again, state of mind. So, I am not old...(though I am a day older than I was yesterday) " Vyra Imondi
A small corner of paradise
“Buy the damn car.”
Ben’s favorite quote,
“I will be conquered; I will not capitulate” - Samuel Johnson, on death.
Kate is my muse
I’m glad that I’m 82 and still truckin’
I’m glad that after 6 years of Parkinson's, I can still get about with walker and cane. Although my voice is greatly diminished, if I yell, I can still make a point.
I’m glad for our caring community that helps me whenever I need it.
I’m glad that I can still write short stories but, sadly, no more novels.
I’m glad that the No Name Writing Group that I founded six years ago, is a vibrant, fun, funny collegial group that gives excellent critiques of my and other’s writing. And The Guild Creative Writing Group gives me a chance to read short stories and laughs and friendship.
And I’m glad for Kate, my muse and love of my life. For without her there would be no life for me. Dave Fogg - age 82
Jet Vertz - age 70 - Life is like football
The game of football is played in four quarters. The average human life span is 88 years (in the Western world). If we divide the 88 years into 4 quarters, the following can be said about each quarter: 1st Quarter (ages 1 to 22) – growing up and learning; 2nd Quarter (ages 23 to 44) – establishing a career and raising children; 3rd Quarter (ages 45 to 66) – providing leadership in a career profession and building a nest egg; 4th Quarter (ages 67 to 88+) – Retirement and Golden Ages period. This means that most of the OLLI members are living in the 4th quarter of their lives.
In the game of football, the most interesting and important quarter to watch is the 4th quarter. Most games are won or lost based on how they play the 4th quarter. Good football teams will apply what they learned from the previous three quarters during the 4th quarter to win the game. This is particularly true with the New England Patriots football team. There have been numerous times where the Patriots were trailing the opponent’s team going into the 4th quarter, yet, win the game when the 4th quarter ends.
The fourth quarter of our lives shouldn’t be looked upon as a useless, over-the-hill period. Instead, it should be considered as an opportune period to follow-up with a passion or a hobby that we didn’t have time to pursue during the earlier quarters or start a business that we always wanted to, etc. As in a football game, the fourth quarter of our lives can be lively, exciting and make it a winning quarter. Yes, I am retired from my professional career, the aviation business. However, I am not retiring to a rocking chair. Instead, I intend to “Think Big” and rock the world by applying my knowledge from the previous three quarters with high spirits and gusto through URI’s OLLI Program and other endeavors.
Jet’s zest for life is contagious. The story of his life is remarkable.