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U.S. law professor gives secret to spending happy senescence

U.S. law professor gives secret to spending happy senescence

Posted December. 14, 2013 04:14,   


The physical appearance gets uglier, and spirit only deteriorates as you get older.

The author put down this clause from William Shakespeare’s “Tempest” right by the table of contents of his book. Aging seems to be scarier than death. One has no way to control his or her own sudden death, but one is forced to only passively endure aging that progresses “slowly yet cruelly.”

The author of the book, a professor of the University of Michigan law school, started writing this book since he was 65. People around him reportedly tried to dissuade him saying that he was too young to write a book on aging, and to not hurry too much. However, he hurried up writing, fearing that he might not be able to write anything, not to mention a book on aging. He tries to directly face the aging process. Addressing the themes of things a person gains and loses in the course of aging, the author continues to write seriously sometimes and cheerfully at other times on issues ranging from his experience, literature, the Bible, and movies. He picks fear, wisdom, compliant, retirement, revenge, wealth, emotion and salvation as the theme for respective chapters.

The theme of the first chapter is fear. His father was a very nice and elegant man until age 88, but the father suffered symptoms of rapidly progressing dementia that suddenly struck him, before dying a month later. The hospital explained that “It was just an ordinary phenomenon from a contracting brain.” Learning that the size of brain decreases significantly due to a decline in dopamine receptor count as one gets older, he got shocked. After handing over his manuscript to the publisher, he developed a short-term amnesia, and was taken to hospital emergency room. After threatening readers, he remarks as below.

“Fortunately, I had the blessing of spending time more than double a 30 year period without knowing this fact. Now I would like to inform younger colleagues of this without fail, and make sure that they don’t pass time without knowing this important fact like me. I am such a considerate person.”

You cannot have a pie and eat it too. He stresses that the privilege of people in senescence lies in having the joy of mild pleasure from the fact that he or she has overcome everything. He defies the prejudice that an aged person easily feels happy and gets wiser. On the contrary, he cool-mindedly faces aging and finds positive meaning in it. For instance, he says even his own experience of amnesia that brought him to the brink of death was great because he can include it in the appendix of his book.

Saying that living life twice is like a criminal punishment, he recommends people to live satisfactorily the first life, rather than seeking to take Botox, Viagra, or facelift. He says one does not need to be bound by age, because the categorizing the ages into teens, 20s, and 30s is not the absolute truth but a way of classification that was made quite recently.

The author notes that now that he has lived a life long enough to have things to lose, he needs courage, patience, lenience, and strength to be able to die a good death. According to him, the best death is for a person to die after making several sarcastic jokes in the presence of his or her family, while maintain the mental condition sound enough to recognize that he or she is dying.