On Growing Old

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30th December 2015 (updated January 2021)

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

January 2021

… so about 5 years after the above. I must have been with angina at the time, ‘cos they wheeled me in for a triple by-pass shortly after. Since then, I suppose not so fagged out after exertion, and the general decline would be due to ageing. Oh well, comes to us all. 

In the middle of the Covid pandemic at the moment – well, a year in. I maybe do 20 to 30 hours a week on the business now, certainly less time in the workshop. But if someone asks you for something, a stove for example, if you can oblige you do. And after  a sharp fall off in orders a year ago, everyone seems to be breathing again, and I find I’m keen as ever. Sort of, though I must admit to persuading others to do most of the grunt. … seem to spend longer at the desk these days. And an hours kip after lunch!

Anything particular to report? … well, creativity must take energy, because I find that wanes with time. Painting: I think I’m fortunate in that it doesn’t really require creative input for me … possibly because invention is not a great part of the exercise for me. A bit like playing an instrument perhaps: someone’s already written the tune, and all you have to do is relax and play it. For the painter who has to construct a visual story, not so easy; I doubt the images come so fast. Like with song writing … long time since I wrote a song … invention = energy! Even with essay writing, I’m not sure a longer perspective compensates for insight.

…nearly 9 pm; time to turn on the t.v. …. another thing that comes with age … routine!