Philosophy is perfectly right in saying
that life must be understood backwards.
But then one forgets the other clause--
that it must be lived forward. --Soren Kierkegaard
Sadly, as we grow older and less able, there is a little voice within that whines and says, "Ooh, but things were so much better when I was 20." It becomes such an ingrained mindset with some oldsters that they find it hard to even try to find something to live 'forward' for--something that will motivate the energy that is still there, waiting to be tapped.
Yes, it is a different kind of energy, but it is there, nonetheless. In his book, The Art of Aging, Sherwin Nuland, a physician, acknowledges that we all age at different rates, but he points to newer evidence that the aging person can influence that aging. One source is the observation that the frequency of Alzheimer's is less in people who have pursued an active intellectual life.
Another source of evidence is the discovery of a class of protein substances that have the ability to protect neurons against injury and death, and can stimulate the production of new neurons from adult stem cells in the brain. The stimulation and production of this protein is influenced by the amount of activity going on in nearby neural circuits. " Those who continue to challenge themselves are likely to be those who maintain the capacity to do so."
It is true that the aging mind is not the same at 70 as it was at 20. Nuland quotes Sir Francis Bacon: "Young men are fitter to invent than to judge, fitter for execution than for counsel, and fitter for new projects that for settled business." We are not as intellectually or physically quick as we were, our reaction times are lessoned and, in differing degrees, we can suffer from memory problems.
The important thing about all this is that we can do something about it. We will not stay well forever, but, in many instances, our attitude toward our present life can keep us healthy and happy for more years than we probably deserve! Intellectual stimulation, cardiovascular exercise and a healthy diet are the tools that keep us interacting with our environment.
Yes, our mindset plays a huge part in the happiness of our elderly years: depression, and a tendency to look backward instead of forward can cause us to miss the joy of the daily parade. Man and nature, nature and man. What, I ask you, can be any more fun than to keep as actively involved in the human parade as possible. Let us 'live forward'!!!