What the Future Holds

We are practicing the future tense with my students. I brought this really cool activity to class which contains the task of writing a description of how one sees one’s own life at the age of seventy.

I have to confess that the activity did not go at all according to plan. The students wrote such horrifying descriptions of what awaited them at seventy, that I got depressed. Everybody mentioned wrinkles, arthritis, bingo, Jeopardy, illness, boredom, and loneliness. I tried to steer them in the direction of discussing this age as the time that brings more wisdom, free time, travel, etc but the students were not interested. The suggestion that 70 is a great age to be happy in one’s personal life was also rejected.

Only after I reminded everybody that people often occupy positions of great power and responsibility at that age did the students start realizing that seventy can actually be a very good age.

N and I have great plans for that age. Even if we end up being very poor, we will still be able to spend all day reading and discussing books. And I’ll finally teach N to speak Spanish, so we’ll be able to read Spanish books together.

At the age of 80, we plan to move to a retirement home and organize orgies there.

14 thoughts on “What the Future Holds”

  1. Seventy is not as unpleasant as your students say they believe. It is different. There tend to be more aches and pains that restrict physical activity but (absent senility) do not restrict but rather encourage mental activity.

    I now find walking and standing, but not sitting, unpleasant. Accordingly, I spend at least eight hours daily seated in front of my computer surfing the internet and writing. That’s now the activity I most enjoy and boredom is not a problem.

    Good luck with the orgies at eighty. I suspect they will occur weekly weakly at best.

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    1. “Accordingly, I spend at least eight hours daily seated in front of my computer surfing the internet and writing. That’s now the activity I most enjoy and boredom is not a problem.”

      – That’s a good way to spend time. Almost as good as an orgy. πŸ™‚

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  2. But don’t you know that growing old is the most horrible thing that can happen to you ever ever? That’s the new meme I’ve been seeing around the internets anyway. Well, not new, but it keeps resurfacing and we’re in the middle of an upsurge in Youth and Beauty Above All at the moment. Not that Western culture has ever totally accepted the fact that people grow old and lose their looks and physical strength — there’s nothing like the pedestal old people are put on (or used to be) in Asian cultures, for instance. But these days hatred and fear of the old and growing old seems to be at an all-time high. I go to supposedly “conservative” websites — you know, conservatives are all about “the wisdom of the ages” and respecting those older and more experienced and knowledgeable than you and so on? — and I’m seeing stuff like “it’s too expensive to take care of old people” and calls to not only cancel Social Security but not pay anyone the money they are already owed that’s been taken out of our paychecks for so long. This is supposedly backlash against the “selfish” Baby Boomers who are supposedly in some sort of conspiracy to work the young to death, but it just sounds more like the nasty panic people get in when they see their own old age approaching and realize that they live in a culture that does not care about or value the elderly. So what do you expect from kids growing up in such a culture?

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    1. In my country, women at the age of 55 all look and act like ancient old hags and men are all dead at that age. And here I see people in their 70s and 80s who are young, vibrant and have super exciting lives. In one of my courses I have a student who is retired, so he’s over 65. He’s doing SO much better in the course than the 20-year-old kids that he puts them all to shame. People have every opportunity to live full lives post-retirement, yet this terror of getting older remains.

      One of my students shared that she is 23 already and feels very old. I sincerely hope she gets over it by the time she is 33. πŸ˜‰

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      1. Well as for me, once I hit “old age” (at about 120 or so — I fully expect for “your 50s are the new 30s” declaration any minute now) I plan to be a terror, not live in terror. I’m already practicing my “you kids get off my lawn!” swing with my broom and can’t wait to hear the first tender child declare me a “scary old witch.”

        What can I say, I’m a weirdo — I’ve always wanted to be an old lady.

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  3. Every age has something different to offer. Mike is 67 and just three years off seventy. He is aerobically fitter than I am, still, although he states that my arm muscles are now bigger than his.

    I am entering a stage where I’ve resolved a lot of psychological and intellectual issues. I’m unswayed.

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        1. “Right. My twenties were totally horrible. That health advice I gave to that other person on your site β€” I could have done with that back then.”

          – I am yet to meat a person who’d like to go to their 20s or their teenage years. Thirties and forties are a lot more popular. πŸ™‚

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  4. I think people fear growing old badly. Losing their faculties, living in impoverished misery are real threats. Governments raid pensions funds, and Alzheimer’s can raid the mind. The future can seem to be a pretty scary place.

    However, for those with health and sufficient funds to cover basic needs plus a bit, it’s rosy, I’m sure. But until you get there you don’t know how it’ll be for you.

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