What a drag it is, getting old…

In this journal entry from 1959, George Kennan (age 55) laments the passage of time.  Excerpted from Sketches From A Life :

A man’s life, I reflected, is too long a span today for the pace of change. If he lives more than half a century, his familiar world, the world of his youth, fails him like a horse dying under its rider, and he finds himself dealing with a new one which is not really his. A curious contradiction, this: that as medicine prolongs a man’s span of life, the headlong pace of technological change tends to deprive him, at an earlier age than was ever before the case, of the only world he understands and the only one to which he can be fully oriented. For it is only the world of one’s youth, the nature of which is absorbed with that tremendous sensitivity and thirst for impression that only childhood and early youth provide– it is only this world that answers to the description. The Western world, at least, must today be populated in a very great part by people like myself who have outlived their own intellectual and emotional environment, and who are old not only in the physical and emotional sense but also in relation to the time. We older people are the guests of this age, permitted to haunt its strange and somewhat terrifying halls– in a way part of its life, like the guests in a summer hotel, yet in a similar way detached from it. We sometimes talk with the hotel staff. We are listened to with interest, amusement, or boredom, depending on the relevance of our words. Occasionally, whether by officiousness or indiscretion, we get fouled up in the life of the place. But guests we remain: it is not our hotel; we do not work there; we never fully understand what goes on in the pantries and the kitchens; we shall be leaving it; the personnel, who will remain, is youth. And the faces of the personnel, while sometime cheerful, sometimes competent, sometimes strong, are nevertheless terrifying to us for the things that are not written on them.

This reminded me of one of the more poignant Bellamy Brothers’ songs, Old Hippie, which contains the lines

Now this world may change around him
But he just can’t change no more…

Listen to the song HERE, and read the lyrics HERE.

One thought on “What a drag it is, getting old…

  1. I never thought I would LIKE being the “older” one in a crowd, on a job, etc . But now, I do! I am now the one who has ” been there, done that.” I know what is really important in my life, and can smile while the “kids today” go on and on about dramatic things in their lives.


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