The Agents of Age

“You never hear of a sportsman losing his sense of smell in a tragic accident and for good reason; in order for the universe to teach excruciating lessons that are unable to apply in later life, the sportsman must lose his legs, the philosopher his mind, the painter his eyes, the musician his ears, the chef his tongue.”

This quote opens the book A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz, and ever since the first time I read it, it has stayed with me for it’s truth.

And if you need proof of its truth, look no further than to the founder of French Impressionist painting, Claude Monet, who brushed into art history the celebrated and beloved series of paintings known as Water Lilies, while slowly losing his sight to cataracts and age.

Losing that part of you that makes up your identity is an unfortunate and common part of aging.

Many of you have seen it happen to your loved ones. The dementia that takes away humor and wit. The chronic knee and joint pain that benches the life-long runner. The arthritis that softens or even silences the fingers of a world-class pianist.

But do not give too much respect to the inevitable, to those terrible agents of age. Take heart in knowing you are stronger than you may believe.

Monet did not give up when his eyes started to fail him. Again, don’t forget that it was during that difficult time he created some of his most well known works.

Yes, those ambassadors of age might seem persistent, bound, and determined, but to quote another great writer, Dylan Thomas:

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

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