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Max Roytenberg

Body and Soul

by Max Roytenberg, March 4, 2018


There are more than seven billion people on this planet and more arriving every second. Our numbers on this globe have reached the point where we are affecting the very nature of the environment in which we live. In negative ways, I might add. Lots of people are worried about it. Some people are worried enough about it that they go to great lengths to even deny that it is happening. Why? Because if it is true we might have to make radical changes in the way we are living. The changes would be inconvenient and expensive.


In the face of global issues of this magnitude, it seems the height of the picayune for me to raise personal matters about my own environment and well-being. What nerve! Where do I get off doing that? And who would be interested? Good questions. But I am what I am and it is what it is.


One defense that comes to mind is that I am one of an increasingly large cohort. We are growing in numbers every day. I am talking about those euphemistically labeled “senior citizens”. The aging of populations is a big issue around the world. We are not dying off as quickly and conveniently as we used to. Whether we talk of Japan or Germany, the issue is the same, even if solutions sought are different. An aging population can lead to economic consequences for a country and the world. In Japan they struggle with a stagnant economy. In Germany they have opted for floods of immigrants to boost the economy with what is, for many, fearsome consequences. In the United States we would face the same stagnancy if not for the Hispanic birth rate. In Canada we are opting for additional immigration.  


So it is a big issue worthy of attention and discussion. Unfortunately that is not my point. I’m talking about the impact of the issue on me personally. I’m talking about getting old, and I am not liking it one bit. Regardless of the fact that getting old may be far better than the alternative, I still want to vent.


I am used to thinking of myself as a master of the universe. Nothing is outside my purview. I am accustomed to feeling that there is nothing that I could not fix if I put my mind to it. It’s just that I’m pretty busy. I am strong and healthy. I can eat and drink pretty well anything. We can get up and go at the drop of a hat. I have cogent opinions about everything. And I am so often right on the button with the correct answers that I am continually amazed at how perceptive I am. It boggles the mind. You all know what I mean. I’m sure many of you feel the same way about yourselves. Our magnificence knows no bounds.


It’s just that things, the world around us, the world within us, they seem to be changing.



These days I seem to be a little bit unsteady sometimes. I fell on my backside twiceyesterday. No damage. Just hurt pride. And some days I am not as articulate as I am used to being. It clears up but it is worrisome. I can walk quickly, but I bend slowly. What does that mean? When at home I work out three times a week and slinging twelve pounders every which way. I can do almost fifty pushups at one time and I do at least thirty minutes on the treadmill at four miles per hour. The heart rate does elevate in the way it didn’t last year, but I still do my two miles every time. I find I am having to do a lot more stretching to stay mobile. I have become a regular yoga fan. What does it all mean? Could it mean that I’m actually getting old? Isn’t eighty the new sixty? Who was the guy that promised us that?


I do notice that women are standing up on the bus to give me their seat instead of the other way around. And people are beginning to make allowances for me without being asked. My steel-sharp memory takes a little more time to give me the answers I am looking for to the kinds of questions I never dreamed I would be asking. I definitely have to root around more to remember just what it was that I was remembering. If I get an idea while almost asleep in my bed, if I don’t get right up to record it, by the morning it may be gone forever. It’s like pressing the wrong button on my computer when I am trying to save something. I may have to send the whole apparatus into the workshop for an overhaul.


More and more my Bride and I take the two of us to make up a whole person who iscompus mentus. That is definitely the truth when we are out driving. My Bride is warning me that if I die on her she will kill me.


We have learned to swim on the internet and soar in the cloud. We are ready to shed defective parts and go bionic. The latest medical advances can tempt us into clinical trials if we can be sure we are not being fed placebos. Looking for volunteers to ingest chemicals and radiologics on offer for genes and from geniuses-we will be first in line!


It is beginning to look like the piled on years are coming home to roost with a lower general level of control over the moving parts of the body, inside and out . Are we coming to a phase where we are in danger of losing our souls too? Perish the thought! I think it’s time for stem cell injections in all the important spots. We have the technology. Why not use it?


Where do we go to sign the petition? Somebody should speak to Trump. He’ll want (need?) to be first in line.

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