ON GROWING OLD

I turned 64 years old last October, so by many standards I only just qualify as ‘old’. However, for the last year or so I have noticed a qualitative depreciation in general performance, which I might attribute to the ageing process. Not enough to cause alarm, as contracting a degenerative illness might, but sufficient to convince me that I have entered ‘old age’. I realise that degeneration is a gradual process, that has been slowly happening for at least the last forty years or so, and that to accord it a particular status is fanciful. But such fancies have a bearing on how we see ourselves. I remember marvelling, during my thirties, at how long youth seemed to be lasting, then barely noticing as I slipped into ‘middle age’. The age of 63 however, seemed to mark a relatively abrupt change into ‘old age’. Whether this was due to realisation rather than a distinct transformation such as an insect might undergo from pupa to larva etc is hardly relevant. There has been a status change which would be at the least undignified to deny.

So I have decided to take notes, not just of the ageing experience, as a diary of failing systems, or an appraisal of the process. After all, we all age … why dwell on it? But it seems to me that some observations can be made that the younger, occupied mind might overlook, much as the bones of the beach are revealed as the tide goes out. For example, over this festive period, Christmas and New Year I am well into the second week of leisure, and have been able to note a difference of personal happiness between reading a book as opposed to watching TV. . Three or four hours stuck in front of the TV, however good the programs, leave me strangely restless and unfulfilled, whereas the same amount of time immersed in a book does not have the same sapping effect. An hour of practising the guitar is equivalent to taking a bracing walk of equal duration, or cleaning the house… all activities