John Adams, a founding father of our country and its 2nd President, maintained physical, mental and spiritual vigor as he grew old. Into his 80’s, he enjoyed walking and riding horseback around his farm and town, attending to his grandkids and corresponding with his old foe Thomas Jefferson. In times of reflection and reading, he found a joy and inner peace in life that he had not previously known. He read widely but especially admired the Psalms. “The Psalms of David, in sublimity, beauty, pathos, and originality, or in one word poetry, are superior to all the odes, hymns, and songs in any language“.
The beauty of the sparkling ice on the trees outside my windows reminds me of a quote in David McCullough’s excellent biography “John Adams”. Pondering the wonder and beauty of creation as seen from the window of his upstairs study, Adams wrote in his journal about “the most splendid winter scene ever beheld“.
“A rain had fallen from some warmer region in the skies when the cold here below was intense to an extreme. Every drop was frozen wherever it fell in the trees, and clung to the limbs and sprigs as if fastened by hooks of steel. The earth was never more universally covered with snow, and the rain had frozen upon a crust on the surface which shone with the brightness of burnished silver. The icicles on every sprig glowed in all the luster of diamonds. Every tree was a chandelier of cut glass……..The whole world was glittering with precious stones.”
Adams, though suffering with several physical ailments and without the benefit of modern medicine (perhaps an advantage?), provides us with a wonderful example of aging well. I’ll reflect more his and other lives and the general concept of healthy aging in coming weeks.