Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
Larry posted this to his blog Reflections of a Happy Old Man on Friday, December 30, 2011.
One friend made this comment:
AgeingFor many years I used to say, "this is the best year of my life".
But everything comes to an end.
2012 looms ahead as a stopping point. There will be many challenges; there will be triumphs -- and failures. This is par for the course, but right now with greater intensity than ever before.
Two years ago, when Ellie took up Blake, a great new vitality came into our lives. What had been my (occasional) obsession became a primary interest for us. For two years we have posted on William Blake: Religion and Psychology, one or the other each day (ramhornd.blogspot.com).
That was a new discipline for me; heretofore I did Blake sporadically for a few months and then something else for a few months. But every day!! No way, until two years ago. A salutary development. (It occurred to me that this might have been the shape of my life, had not ten wartime years intruded over most of my twenties.)
However this intensive mental activity came at a cost. After an intense two hours doing research I discovered I was sleepy (you might say my brain started getting sluggish). Strangely enough it was much like what happened to me after two intense hours of tennis.
Wow! a Discovery! Intense mental activity and/or physical activity led to a diminution of energy - for one or the other.
For an old man the challenge of this is to learn balanced habits that use the appropriate amount of the two activities -- to go from one to the other. Perhaps this was simple second nature to many people much younger that my (advanced) age, but for me it was a Revelation.
Memory is the greatest problem. Strangely enough a fairly large vocabulary was still in force, but I was frequently guilty of making up a sentence with appropriate words, only to the find the appropriate words forgotten before I got around to writing them; like going to the kitchen for something and forgetting the purpose before I got there.
Memory is something to fight for. There are in fact two levels: the immediate memory continually diminished, but a (largely) unconscious reservoir exists available under certain circumstances. The challenge is to learn how to use it more consciously. Memory loss is one of the primary concomitants of Alzheimer's disease and similar disabilities.
How can we learn to remember?
Letters, To Hayley, 1800, (E 705) "Thirteen years ago. I lost a brother & with his spirit I converse daily & hourly in the Spirit. & See him in my remembrance in the regions of my Imagination. I hear his advice & even now write from his Dictate--Forgive me for expressing to you my Enthusiasm which I wish all to partake of Since it is to me a Source of Immortal Joy even in this world by it I am the companion of Angels. May you continue to be so more & more & to be more & more perswaded. that every Mortal loss is an Immortal Gain. The Ruins of Time builds Mansions in Eternity."
Four Zoas, Night VII, PAGE 87  (FIRST PORTION), (E 367) "Mourning the daughters of Beulah saw nor could they have sustaind The horrid sight of death & torment But the Eternal Promise They wrote on all their tombs & pillars & on every Urn These words If ye will believe your Brother shall rise again In golden letters ornamented with sweet labours of Love Waiting with Patience for the fulfilment of the Promise Divine"
One friend made this comment: