Afraid Of Growing Old?

Essayist and screenwriter Nora Ephron catches the spirit of Ecclesiastes (probably unwittingly) when she writes the following on aging:

I’m old. I am 69 years old. I’m not really old, of course. Really old is eighty. But if you are young, you would definitely think that I’m old. No one actually likes to admit that they’re old ... but then one day, your knee goes, or your shoulder. ... Your hot flashes come to an end; things droop.

Once a month there’s a funeral. You lose close friends and discover one of the worst truths of old age: They’re irreplaceable. People who run four miles a day and eat only nuts and berries drop dead. People who drink a quart of whiskey and smoke two packs of cigarettes a day drop dead. You are suddenly in a lottery, the ultimate game of chance, and someday your luck will run out. Everybody dies. There’s nothing you can do about it.

The realization that I may have only a few good years remaining has hit me with real force, and I have done a lot of thinking as a result. I would like to have come up with something profound, but I haven’t. I try to figure out what I really want to do every day. I try to say to myself, ‘If this is one of the last days of my life, am I doing exactly what I want to be doing?’ I aim low. My idea of a perfect day is a frozen custard at Shake Shack and a walk in the park” ("The Costco Connection," November 2010, p. 47).

Ms. Ephron is coming to the realization that everyone does if they live long enough:

Yet I myself perceived that the same event happens to them all. So I said in my heart, "As it happens to the fool, it also happens to me, and why was I then more wise?" Then I said in my heart, "This also is vanity." For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever, since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come. And how does a wise man die? As the fool! (Ecc. 2:14-16).

Ms. Ephron doesn’t mention God in her essay, and this may explain why she has not discovered anything profound; in her contemplation of death. But consider this: "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 5:1).

The man who wrote that also wrote:"For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil 1:21). Now THAT is profound, and it makes growing old less fearful.