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I am now fifty-one, still a hesitant member of AARP and I read the obituary every day hoping to find my enemies and dreading to find my friends. Still, despite the palpable sense of my own mortal frailty, I am as much a fool today as I was at twenty or seventeen. I am a fool who still believes in love, visceral –redolent of earth– love. When love went poorly for me, which was embarrassingly often, I tried to agree with Schopenhauer’s reasonable notion that love is just a little trick the species plays on individuals to goad each of us to take reckless chances and ultimately reproduce other hapless individuals also doomed to be goaded to leap, or fall, like us into the briars of passion and on and on ad infinitum from protista to Cro-Magnon, Cro-Magnon to Einstein. But when eye met soft eye I knew immediately these were only the wicked thoughts of a bitter man who certainly knew better himself, clever though his wicked thoughts may have been.

Love is. That is the problem. Love just is, and there is not a thing we can do about it. Love is.

Beauty is too, and so is sweet and bitter and wild fear and the flavor of cumquats and envy and lust and vengeance and, oddly, faith in the sublime, and even hope. These are all real things we live and feel and periodically try to ignore, but there they are. They is. All of them and infinitely more, each of them is. And so is death. Death is too. And this is the ultimate human paradox: Love makes Life which culminates in Death and yet without Love there would be neither. No love no life; no life no death. So each day I live and each day my aches ache slightly more and my arm becomes progressively too short to read the menu, each day that passes I believe more and more in love and become more and more the proudest of fools.

So my fellow AARPs-kateers. Remember love, and perhaps we can do better poitically for our progeny, which is the reason we got here in the first place. As St. Augustine grasped so well, “disordered love” is the love that hurts us. Disordered love is love of the temporal — it is love without a sense of eternity. And our children are our eternity. They are our eternal youth . So the youth we no longer have is what we ought to love, and we love best, most well ordered, when we love them eternally.

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  • Eric Olsen

    James, funny, deep and moving. Your posts have been an absolutely great addition to the site – thanks so much!

  • Dr. Carmine writes: “So the youth we no longer have is what we ought to love, and we love best, most well ordered, when we love them eternally.

    Reply: As one AARP-eligible man to another, well said. I envy your obvious command of the ancient (and not so ancient) philosophers.