Letter: ‘The great thing about growing old’

October 18, 2022

The bad thing about getting old is you find what you enjoyed and understood many years ago is no longer understandable, or even enjoyable. Then you stop listening to music, avoid reading modern fiction, or even going to the theater.

The great thing about growing old is when you discover that the latest in any of these things can be understood, and even be enjoyable. If we never give up “maturing,” we can continue to experience today as much as we did yesterday.

I started reading Shakespeare in high school, in the ’50s. We memorized famous speeches and read his iambic pentameter aloud. I have gone to performances of Shakespeare all over the world. Until recently they were done in the traditional way, with characters resembling what the Bard intended them to be. At least, that was what I thought. Shakespeare intended men to play most roles, for Romeo and Juliet to be Italian teenagers, and for Julius Caesar to be a white male, and so on.

But recently, I have had some eye-opening experiences at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I went to see “King John” and was skeptical about watching such a play with an all-female cast. About three minutes into the play, I realized my skepticism was unfounded, as the cast played their parts and moved the story forward with such magnificence their gender was unimportant. 

Just as technology allows me to do things I could not do before, and do such things as communicate, dine, garden, drive, travel, etc., I am also given the opportunity to enjoy such things as music, art and theater in a new way.

A recent exhibit of modern art surprised me, as I was expecting Impressionism, or Pointillism, or something that Picasso would have done. As I wandered through the gallery, I was baffled by what I was seeing. But as I thought about it, I realized the creativity that I could now enjoy was a further step in my maturation.

I hope to live several years longer, and I further hope that in my final hours I will find, along with the memories of my wonderful past, new things to give me pleasure and joy!

Charlie Zoi

Ashland

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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