ELDER MUSIC: 1970 Again
Long and Healthy Lives

On Aging by Maya Angelou

In between naps last week during the several days' recovery following my dental surgery, I read.

Not any of the several books I am currently working through – I didn't think I would have much recall, given the effects of the Vicodin. I was looking for something mildly engrossing that would match my raggedy, drugged attention span and wouldn't tax my brain.

It was a good strategy that left me with several interesting ideas to play with as I drifted off to sleep again.

One was a poem from Maya Angelou that I don't remember reading before. It supports my crabby response to all those magazine ads and websites about life everlasting in fancy retirement communities, illustrated with the same stock photo of a movie-star bland couple strolling hand-in-hand on a tropical beach.

This fantasy is part of the growing phenomenon of “successful ageing,” “positive ageing,” or “active ageing” promoting the charade that getting old is nothing more difficult that deciding whether to play golf today without the merest hint that it is more likely to involve losses that, even when not catastrophic, are real and implacable and inescapable.

Maya Angelou knows that and knows, too, that we can endure it without fairy tales.

ON AGING

When you see me sitting quietly,
Like a sack left on the shelf,
Don’t think I need your chattering.
I’m listening to myself.
Hold! Stop! Don’t pity me!
Hold! Stop your sympathy!
Understanding if you got it,
Otherwise I’ll do without it!
When my bones are stiff and aching,
And my feet won’t climb the stair,
I will only ask one favor:
Don’t bring me no rocking chair.
When you see me walking, stumbling,
Don’t study and get it wrong.
‘Cause tired don’t mean lazy
And every goodbye ain’t gone.
I’m the same person I was back then,
A little less hair, a little less chin,
A lot less lungs and much less wind.
But ain’t I lucky I can still breathe in.

The poem is from Maya Angelou's book, And I Still Rise, published in 2011, when she was 83. Ms. Angelou died last year.

Maya-angelou


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Trudi Kappel: Rose avec Beaucoup de Rubans et de Dentelles

Comments

Lovely poem.

But I'll take the rocking chair, thank you. Has anyone else noticed how uncomfortable our children's houses are? No reading lamps -- and deep, overstuffed couches it's impossible to get out of?

What a great poem! I have enjoyed everything I have seen by Maya Angelou. I really loved her poem on the inauguration of Bill Clinton, "On the pulse of morning." Thank you for sharing this poem about aging. I can relate this morning with my creaky knees. Get better soon!

We age, as we are genetically predisposed to age. Yes, we can tweak the aging process a bit by taking better care of ourselves, keeping our minds active and watching our diets,but in the long run, it's our parents who have designed our destiny.
My parents lived a decent life, healthy until the last few years. They were both mentally sound right to the end. Hopefully, I'll be able mimic at least that. Unfortunately, some of us won't be able to do that, and to make those people feel that, because the aging process has not treated them well, they have done something wrong is unwarranted and inexcusable.

thanks for the poem, fits perfectly with my mood today, we have had far too much snow and my psychic ability to deal with it is fading.
On occasions such as this I think again about the possibility of selling my house and moving into a retirement community. But once the snow melts I will begin to plan for how I can better deal with such a winter next year.

I'm so glad Angelou left us so many thought and words to chew on. This is a great poem and new to me thanks Ronni.

Thanks for sharing that poem. I love it!

Thank you for sharing Ronni! I was in need of such reading material; I had the first of 2 cataract surgeries on Friday. I am also thankful for the blogposts you made after your surgery, as well as the comments from other readers on their surgeries. I knew pretty much what to expect, and have to say I'll take eye surgery over a routine trip to the dentist anyday!

But now I"m stuck unable to drive until after the left eye is done, as my "old eye" and "new eye" aren't seeing eye to eye!

Happy to say my public library had this Angelou collection of poems for immediate download to my Kindle:) A few afternoons will now be more fulfilling than anticipate.

Correct me if Im wrong, but I am sure that Maya Angelou was the "Poet Laureate" at one time and it was a well deserved honor.

Oh I love this! Thanks Ronni, for my first grin of the day. I loved your response even more than the poem itself.

"It supports my crabby response to all those magazine ads and websites about life everlasting in fancy retirement communities, illustrated with the same stock photo of a movie-star bland couple strolling hand-in-hand on a tropical beach.

This fantasy is part of the growing phenomenon of “successful ageing,” “positive ageing,” or “active ageing” promoting the charade that getting old is nothing more difficult that deciding whether to play golf today without the merest hint that it is more likely to involve losses that, even when not catastrophic, are real and implacable and inescapable".

Melinda, I agree. A rocking chair, any solid-seated and backed chair or sofa is for me. The cushy, mushy stuff is no support for any body.

Maya knew how to put her thoughts out there and with such a relatable manner.

I love her thoughts regarding the outer silence that allows the inner conversation/wool gathering.

Darlene...
Maya Angelou was never appointed U.S. poet laureate. Sometimes people think so due to her poem at the inaugural of President Bill Clinton.

Wonderful poem by a fabulous women!

Last night we watched an amazing film called "Amour", about a long-married couple in their 80's and their struggles when the wife suffers a stroke. I highly recommend this for your Geezer Flicks list which I have been going through as we borrow DVDs from our library.

Marja-Leena...
Amour has long been slated for the Geezer Flicks list; I just haven't updated it in - embarrassingly - years. Literally.

I want to prune of it some that aren't up to snuff and add a bunch more such as Amour and hope I'll get to it fairly soon.

Meanwhile, I did write about Amour which readers who are interested can read here.

A good poem. To me, she's asking others to not judge or categorize her or pity her because of her aging ways. If that's not so, then leave her alone. In that line she refers to others'"understanding" or lack thereof. Something to think about regarding all isms and not jump to assumptions before we equip ourselves to "understand." Or maybe to quit judging others.

For me, this makes life interesting and reminds me that at 72 I don't know all that much, but enjoy the opportunity for frequent learning. I don't want that to ever end, even those times when I'm dead-wrong on the spot.

I don't mind someone helping me to do something, but if they start talking to me as if I'm a three-year-old, I get really cranky.

My mind is clear (so far)and most of the time I can do without help. Although I wouldn't turn down a full-time housekeeper if someone wanted to pay them!

Thanks for this great poem on aging -- plan to buy her book soon -- barbara

I recently found my CD of Maya Angelou reading her poems.

Because of today's post, I'm sure to be listening to her once again tonight.

Ronni, thanks for the link to your article on 'Amour'. I actually had read it back then and forgotten, and very much enjoyed rereading it now. Yes, the film is very real for those of us who have cared for loved ones (my father, in my case), and yes, it is also painful as is real life yet so beautifully acted and filmed.

You are right, Ronni. After I wrote and posted my comment I looked it up in Wikipedia and discovered my error. I should have researched it first. :-( .

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