There was a time—and you will have to take my word for this—when I could string together a decent classic five-paragraph personal essay. With the passage of time, I find that after grinding out two paragraphs, more often than not I say to hell with it and crack open a cold beer. There is a strategy for dealing with one’s waning powers, however, that has nothing to do with cold beer.
First, one must forgive one’s self. Self-forgiveness happens to be something that I have always excelled at, but others have difficulty with it. I can only say from personal experience that with daily practice we can forgive ourselves anything.
Second—and this might more properly be characterized as a way to go about the self-forgiveness thing—find the humor in one’s plight. Among the criteria that differentiate the human from the beast, surely the ability of a human being to laugh in the face of his or her fate has to be among the most important. In the case of the aging human, it may be the most important of all.
Third, one must enjoy to the utmost that which remains. I like to say “Revel in the remnants!” because of the alliteration, an alliteration that would be so much more satisfying if we rolled our beginning r’s in the manner that the Spanish speaking people do. (I resist the temptation to digress here.)
As you can see, by way of strategic paragraphing, I have today actually completed one more classic five-paragraph personal essay, perhaps my last. Who knows, and who cares?