The Crimson White

Time and old age

Anna Scott Lovejoy

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I am an advocate for living by the rather cliché concept that each individual posses the power to conquer anything if they merely apply steady time and pressure to their pursuits. I, too, recognize an importance in accepting that their are some aspects of life that refuse to be conquered. Upon traveling down to Palm Beach, Florida, for Easter, one of the unconquerable parts of life consistently manages to infiltrate our family conversations. Time embodies this illusive notion that no one, no matter the age difference, comfortably grasps. It stands as this mysterious and universal force that relentlessly asserts its power over every person throughout their entire life. It is interesting to question exactly what societal, social, cultural or personal traditions pressure people to feel as if time is something they have to much of, cannot get enough of, or wake up realizing they completely lost track of.

As my family reminisced over my grandfather’s and my uncle’s last several months and years on this earth, the stories of their childlike wonderment and appreciation for merely watching waves crash lead me to evaluate the power of age and time. This caught my attention because both of them specifically voiced this deep appreciation for the ocean’s simple beauty on separate occasions during the end of their lives. Following this conversation, my siblings and I shared our spring break beach stories, our working plans for the summer, and our anxious reluctancy to navigate the unlit roads ahead of us.
After reflecting upon the two different discussions, I found myself envying that peace and gratitude my uncle and grandfather felt solely watching waves build up and crash on the shorelines. In my mind, the college students in the family began to represent this generation that frantically fears leaving behind their past, frets moving into their future and thus, they miss on their present. It is important to enjoy these precious college years, but the fear of growing old, looking back on life wondering where time went, and wishing that I really watched more waves crash is a terrifying thought that comes with a lot of pressure. 

Although they are no longer with us, it is the memory of my uncle and grandfather finding a paradise in watching waves, that assured me that growing up an eventually old is not something to fear. Rather, it is something to be coveted and respected. Jared Diamond’s 2013 Ted Talk, “How Societies Can Grow Old Better,” discusses the cultural and social respects paid to the elderly in differing societies around the world. I strongly recommend watching this discussion if growing old does not seem to be a beautiful thing, for researching the elderly care in different cultures across the world might help all of us gain a deeper appreciation and respect for seniors and the aging process in general. 

If our own society and culture would remember who really knows the most about this scary concept of time, perhaps we would not be quite so reluctant to be a friend of time rather than its enemy. While the younger generations fight time worrying away their unfolding lives or possibly vying to live in the past, they are neglecting to consider the advice of the ones who have already spent lifetimes figuring out how to deal with time. I enjoy picturing my grandpa or uncle smiling as they send down the advice to all of the distraught college student like my siblings and me to just be present in all that you do, see, and experience, and of course, always remember to just watch some waves.

Anna Scott Lovejoy is a sophomore majoring in general business and biology. Her column runs biweekly.

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Time and old age