The Best Years of Life by S. M. Hutchens

The Best Years of Life

About thirty years ago, when I was playing in a park with my little daughters, an old woman said to me, "You'd better enjoy this—these are the best years of your life." As I recall, I made some polite rejoinder and moved away, having no desire to converse with someone who had just announced she was miserable and resented it.

Now and then as I grow older, the children having grown and moved away and the bones creaking more every year, her remark returns to mind and must be dealt with. There is a sense in which she was right, but what she said tempts with of a kind of morbidity to which we should not succumb. It is the sort I see in the people who spend hours in old high-school yearbooks reliving what they now, having failed in life, recognize as their best years, times filled with life and hope they now have lost.

There is a kindred phenomenon in which older people who can afford it, cringing in the sight of imminent death, rage at the dying of the light not by complaining, but by making clowns of themselves pretending to be young. My wife and I are receiving a great deal of advertising aimed at this group, embarrassing and insulting because it seeks profit by helping people become useless vessels of self-amusement through an event called "retirement," which no Christian should ever think about doing as long as he has breath in his body and his wits about him. Our vocation (whatever we have done for a living) is to divine service as long as we are on this earth; the holiday is later.

True Sustenance for Old Age

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S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.

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