Posted by: Karen (Betty Bear) | September 17, 2011

Getting old

What happens to people as they get older? Do they get more and more like their true selves? I look at my FIL and think I never, ever want to get that self-absorbed and, well, not exactly small-minded, it’s more like the stuff he talks about and thinks about are within a very narrow focus. Did he consciously narrow his world? I don’t know.

My mother has gotten more and more fearful in the last 5 to 10 years. She worries mostly about her family and whether or not we will be hurt, either physically or emotionally. I don’t remember her being fearful when I was younger. Did I just not pay that much attention to it? Was it always there and has just gotten worse? And why?

I have a friend in her eighties who is legally blind through macular degeneration and has had a stroke. I sometimes take her shopping or errand running or out to lunch or to an event at church. Even though her world has, of necessity, become quite small, she still takes an interest in the larger world, in what I’m doing, what my kids are doing, even what my parents are doing. My grandmother was like this as well. How do you become this kind of old person instead of an inwardly-focused old person?

My feeling would be that, stuff like Alzheimer’s aside, you do become more and more your real self as you age. But I also think that you can change your real self to some extent to be the kind of person you want yourself to be. I want to be interested in the people around me, concerned for their well-being and doing something to make the world a better place, even if that something is quite small. I want to take joy in the beauties of nature and the creations of people, I want to love and be loved.

But for now, I need to go help girl child put on make-up for a sweet sixteen party, find some clothes for myself and get through another meal with the father-in-law and his wife and their inane conversation. *Deep breath*



  1. I’ve been thinking about this for hours now. And the word I’m looking for still escapes me. (Old Lady Brain strikes again. Let’s blame hormones, or the lack thereof currently.) So I’ll just move past it.
    What I was going to say was that there is an honest and genuine essence of who we are, it’s always there at our core, and when we help it to grow (by exposing our soul to more and more love, influence of others [good others, not negative shitty others], information, laughter, art, diversity, etc) we become a richer and deeper version of our true self. Instead of the oppposite, the starved and narrow-minded crabby, angry senior citizen (you kids stay offa my lawn!) that we so often see, but never want to end up as.

    • That makes a lot of sense. I guess it’s like the nature/nurture debate for babies and children. There are core personality traits that we are born with, but what happens to us after we are born (and in the womb, too!) can affect those traits hugely. As adults we have much more choice in what our nurturing environment is and so our choices shape us.

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