”Old Age is a defeatism that overcomes cowardly and weak people.” - Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) Greek writer
I read this line in the 1970s and thought it sounded completely accurate, although I had no idea of what old age would entail. I swore never to succumb to defeatism when I became elderly, but was blissfully unaware of what horrors lay ahead.
Now I’m elderly (79) and realize it’s more complicated that one-liners from legendary Greek writers. Because health issues invariably accompany the aging process, and I regret to inform you that positive thinking cannot overcome cancer, heart attacks, arthritis, etc. in the real world. Illness comes to elderly people regardless of how positively or courageously they might think. No one gets out of this world alive no matter how enlightened they might be, or how much quinoa and chia they might consume, or how much yoga they do, or what high-minded delusions we might base out lives upon.
But actually, if the truth be told, Kazantzakis wasn’t completely wrong. Because sometimes elderly people get depressed and surrender long before it’s necessary to check out, kick the bucket, or whatever you want to call it. The sad truth is that some unfortunate elderly folks have no interests except wallowing in their misery. I knew a woman who wouldn’t even watch TV. She just sat, stared into space, felt sad, and prayed to die. Then one day her prayers were answered.
We elderly people don’t have the stamina we had back in the day, and certain aches and pains cannot be avoided, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t enjoy many of life’s pleasures such as good food and drink, stimulating conversation, spectator sports, and all the arts. Many of us even can walk, do calisthenics, and bop around at rock concerts. And some of us are fortunate enough to fall in love again, although it might be imaginary love affairs with movie stars such as Catherine Zeta-Jones.
So ultimately I think Kazantsakis was right. The defeatism of old age is a state of mind, a point of view, an opinion or a weakness, really, that undermines whatever lingering happiness is available to fogies and geezers. Avoid that defeatism by all means if you can.