Frequently I get humorous emails from friends of my generation, about our diminishing faculties — like memory that fails us, hearing loss that confuses us, fading eyesight, and of course that sorely missed activity called sex. Well, I tell them, I tried it both ways. I’ve been young, and I’ve been old, and I came to a definite conclusion: young is better. But when it comes to advancing years, you know the alternative to growing old — and no contest there. Growing old wins. Or does it? If the individual involved is fighting a painful physical condition, or a mind so demented that it cannot communicate with other human beings, is growing old worth the trouble? Enter total misery. Enter prayers for deliverance. Enter physician assisted suicide. Our society debates that idea, vociferously and validly. After all, medical science does make groundbreaking new discoveries that could — and do — give us additional welcome and productive years. We should not give up. Tired as these words may sound, they still have meaning: where there’s life there’s hope. Above all, whatever problems we face, we need to believe they can be solved. That’s what we pray for, three times a day in Judaism: “Heal us, G-d, and we shall be healed.” Look at life expectancy today as compared with a century ago. And then look at the malach-hamovves (the angel of death) and laugh: “On your way, fella. I’m not ready for you yet.” Remember, laughter can indeed be the best medicine. So zy gezunt — be well!
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