Saturday begins with my favorite dance of the day, the chicken dance over some birdseed. A quiet day. Still looking around for Izzy. We are working this morning. I am wring a story about the Fox and The Farmer for Slate.com and Maria is in the Studio Barn working on a streaming piece. Lenore and Frieda are getting some sun in the front yard. Things are settling here. I finished a new Jim Lynch novel, "Truth Like The Sun," and I love Jim Lynch's writing but not this book so much. I am increasingly unsettled by the almost bigoted portrayals of aging by writers, mostly younger writers. Older people are sexless, health-obsessed, cranky, withering and unappetizing spirits. The literary novelists are tiring of lengthy portrayals of dying cancer victims, so they seem to be turning more and more to agonizing delineations of Lou Gehrig's disease, and lately, strokes and aneurisms. (On to Denis Johnson's "Magical Dream.")
No older person is ever seen as having sex, finding love, peace or achievement. In literary fiction, there are no happy endings for the old. Death looms around every new chapter. And the hoary AARP magazine runs features on buying GPS anklets for Grandma so she won't get lost. I'd cancel my subscription if I could reach them on the phone.
I sometimes feel that the elderly are the last safe targets in American culture. Gays, blacks, women are all speaking up for themselves in the loudest possible way, but the elderly often seem voiceless and dispirited, expected to take their pills, talk to their doctors about Viagra and topple over from strokes and heart attacks. Portrayals of the elderly in Lynch's new novel were almost vicious, dried up people reading obits, whining and complaining, and falling apart.
This is not my experience of getting older. I am her to tell you that getting older, just like being younger, is a mixed bag. One thing or another hurts almost every day, but the riches and rewards for me – love, photography, writing good books, finding a life with animals on a farm, making real friendships are just beginning to pour in. I will move along to new openings, new experiences, letting go of some of the struggles of life, understanding spirituality, compassion and growth and eager to pass along some of the few things I have learned in life. I always learn things from younger people, and hopefully, they can learn from me. I am pleased that so many of the readers of my books and the blogs are young as well as older.
To those who would see people like me as relentlessly downsizing, shriveling up, talking all day about prostate cancer and kidney trouble, nuts to you. A failure of creativity, imagination, and empathy. Being young is no better an excuse for bigotry than being dumb.