Psalms, Book IV, Chapter 90, verse 10 should be avoided by anyone who is nearing or has reached 80 years of age:
“The years of our life are threescore and ten,
Or even by reason of strength fourscore;
Yet their span is but toil and trouble;
They are soon gone, and we fly away.”
I make no comment on 80-year-old President Biden or 77-year-old Former President Trump. If both men are on the November 2024 ballot the voters can exercise their own judgment. And, should some other person lead either or both slates, the news media will make sure that their callow youth or doddering age are thoroughly exposed. And it will not matter anyway if the Bible is any guide because as the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter I, verse 9 advises:
“What has been is what will be,
And what has been done is
What will be done;
And there is nothing new under the sun.”
Now, Gentle Reader, you may be of such an age that 80 seems but a pleasant temperature, not a grave specter or condition of daily life. However, as one who has recently joined the Four Score assemblage, I respectfully refer you back to Ecclesiastes, Chapter 4 verse 13:
“Better is a poor and wise youth
Than an old and foolish king
Who will no longer take advice.”
In other words, the mere arriving at or near 80 is not much of an accomplishment. Whether our leaders are 18 or 80 is not the relevant consideration; it is wisdom that matters and wisdom is not guaranteed by age nor is exuberant recklessness always the province of youth.
But what I have unfortunately come to experience is that diet and exercise mean little to most people who reach the “three score and ten” plateau. “Magic bullets” as trumpeted on countless television commercials do not really contain any magic. Sure, it is a good idea to not be sedentary or overeat at any age. However, no matter what good habits old people engage in, the battle still goes to the strong and the race to the swift. And those two truisms are proved by the rosters of any professional sport team and the ages of university faculties. Yes, some emeritus scholars still fill chairs so colleges can raise their images, and contributions, but doddering is not a productive exercise nor hardly inspiring.
Those near or in the octogenarian grouping are old enough to remember the Viet Nam War, the Gulf War and the Iraq War; of course, an awareness of the Ukrainian tragedy is inescapable. Yet we appear to be digging in deeper in numerous military briar patches while we have great humanitarian needs at home and abroad. Those of us who lived through Viet Nam are puzzled by others who did also yet vigorously have us engaged in numerous similar new quagmires.
Perhaps the real lesson some 80-year-olds, and many less than 80, anticipate is that there really is nothing new under the sun except the aches and pains we never truly expected should it be our lot to live long enough to experience them. On the other hand, as that eternal optimist, and opportunist, Scarlett O’Hara, said in Gone With The Wind, “Tomorrow is another day”. At least we all hope so regardless of the Sturm und Drang. As Robert Frost pointed out, all we have is the struggle so we better make up our minds to enjoy it regardless. Therefore, I’ll just pull myself up and say Happy Birthday to all my fellow Leo’s, especially the Four Score ones.