On A Cat Aging
by Sir Alexander Gray
He blinks upon the hearth-rug
And yawns in deep content,
Accepting all the comforts
That Providence has sent.
Louder he purrs and louder,
In one glad hymn of praise
For all the night’s adventures,
For quiet, restful days.
Life will go on forever,
With all that cat can wish;
Warmth, and the glad procession
Of fish and milk and fish.
Only – the thought disturbs him –
He’s noticed once or twice,
That times are somehow breeding
A nimbler race of mice.
I loved Merlin – King Arthur’s court wizard — when I was a kid and that was just about the time that Disney came out with “The Sword in the Stone.”
WOW – nearly 50 years ago!
Later I was to love the Arthurian legend in many deep and symbolic ways — love it so much that for a long time I kept a light-up, plug-in sword which was (actually, fairly easily) removed from a plastic pseudo-crystalline rainbow light-shooting stone. Doing so didn’t make me a queen of anything, though.
It is almost impossible, I think, to be human and anything more than partially literate without knowing the splendor of the Arthurian legend.
Fast forward to the present, and I am a wizard in my own way – a doctor. I wanted every patient to have the smiling sense of the Arthurian splendor that I had when I pulled that ersatz sword from the ersatz stone. Most of them did, until that piece, like many dear to me, was lost in a series of moves.
A senior woman scientist once told me that when she came of age in the 50s, women who wanted to look younger or who wanted softer skin could only choose lanolin compounds. Lanolin — that stuff on sheep wool that makes your hands feel smooth after you have been — well, petting living sheep if you are the kind of person who gets to do that.
There have been lots of advances since then. I do remember at least once, long ago, being shopping with a woman physician who had an interest in such products. In France, of course. Any docs I know here in the states are usually so submerged in the system, so overworked, that they are lucky if they have time to wash their faces. But back to France. It was clear to me from her shopping habits that this woman, a distinguished scientific researcher, suspended her level of requirements for “good science” when she bought beauty preparations.
There was a good reason for this. There wasn’t any.
Oh, I had worked with her in medical school putting eye shadow on mice. Now although that may sound a bit bizarre, I must tell you that this was research.
Through a deal which I doubt anyone other than my glamorous professor could have put together, we got a contract to test cosmetics to make sure they were safe before the government would let them be put on the general market. Read more on Putting Beauty Treatments To The Test…
I was looking at Paul Fink’s column in the April 2010 Clinical Psychiatry News, one of those newspaper format “journals” that we like to call “throwaway journals” because subscriptions are free and they summarize other journals, as they usually end up in the trash. He writes for other psychiatrists. It is possible to identify with him if you do this for a living and are sentient enough to know what is going on around you.
I always liked this guy. Older people have a lot to say when they have practiced long enough to see trends go up and down and know their fate.
If I remember correctly, he is the one who said a while ago something to the effect that psychiatry is like prostitution in that the amateurs think they know as much as the professionals. Nobody has better nailed the central difficulty of this job. Read more on Purpose and Aging…