Nothing defines the old age better than ambiguity.
We grow old in highly ambiguous ways. This ambiguity is constantly nurtured from three sources: the waste, the chill, and the absence.
I’ll approach them one by one.
…is, in every respect, enormous. Illnesses wasting the body; nostalgia wasting the heart; those long, empty hours that waste the old man’s will turning it into something arbitrary and somehow dispensable. When neither the gain nor the loss makes sense, everything’s a waste.
An old body warms up slowly and chills down quickly. The shivering is its second nature. Shivering is the answer to all lively matters. It keeps one aware of being alive. Yet, shivering is the grossest hint to death. Growing old as growing cold…
As the world deflates becoming no more than a ghost army of forgotten names, the absence expands. The absence unfolds itself like a blooming, inodorous, dark flower; first, obstructing the corners of the room; later on, covering empty chairs and dusty tables, shrouding faces and genealogies, and, finally, congesting the nostrils of the soul.
The moment when an old soul is no longer able to breath in hopes and exhale promises, the absence comes to life for real. It turns from an insidious velvet flower into a lively beast: the shocking angel.
Just like Jacob upon his return to Canaan, the old man struggles with The Absence itself, with the solid, dashing absence of everything he used to be, of everything that is rapidly growing out of his reach.
But there is no way for him to see “the face” of this Absence – his Absence – and live.
He either lives on in a sanctuary of illusions, hallucinating by the edge of reality, or he dies. The moment he chooses to live sanely, the ambiguity creeps in.
“Who am I?” Who is he, the man who won the battle with his own Absence?
“Who am I?” Who is he, the man who trips on his shoelaces, drops the teacup, and stumbles in everyday recollection?
“Who am I?” Who is he, the man who has no social legitimation to be alive, yet no existential justification to function socially?
“Who am I to be?“
The old is ontologically distinct from the young. And nothing can fill up the gap between that which is ontologically desirable (because socially triumphant), and that which is ontologically a waste (because socially absent).
The young is gold, the old is cold.