now that’s old

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Rembrandt's Philosopher Reading

Was reading Andreas Heinakroon‘s blog earlier today about immortality (what I got out of it? the idea of living forever isn’t all it’s cracked up to be), and I got to thinking about something I find curious (before I forget, here it is: Immortality is overrated)

The thing I’ve been thinking about? It’s not a big thing. Blogging sometimes lends itself to pondering the minutiae. But as soon as I say that, I recognise it’s not such a small thing either. Primarily because it has to do with perspective. Enough build up. Let’s jump right in, why don’t we.

When you’re fifteen, you think twenty-five is really old, and thirty-five is inconceivable. I’d even risk saying that when you’re fifteen, anyone above forty is ancient. There might be exceptions to this, but you know what I mean.

So, ten years later? You’re twenty-five now. That’s not so old. Twenty-five is ok. Definitely not old. But thirty-five. Damn…that’s old. And it goes on, doesn’t it? Thirty-five seems old until you’re actually zeroing in on it. Once you’re there? Not so bad.

Throw all of this out the window if you’re unwell. If you’ve got some horrible illness or a loved-one is sick, that clearly impacts your perspective. But assuming you’re relatively healthy, isn’t it curious how subjective we are about age?

When I was a child, my grandmother was fifty-five. Not only was that the number I carried around as my yardstick for ancient, but for many, many years she was still fifty-five in my mind. It’s not as if I was delusional. Or not overly so. But if you asked me how old my Nana was, my immediate thought was fifty-five. Strange, eh?

Have often thought to myself that I’m a very old man stuck in a relatively young man’s body. I love  sitting in a café, reading the paper, drinking good tea (sometimes coffee), complaining about the state of the world swirling round me.

I don’t look forward to my body’s degeneration. Who would? That’d be madness. But to feel a bit less of the pressure that I have to accomplish things. The whole ‘youth is wasted on the young’ deal.

Over the years, I’ve spent significant time with older people. One thing I like about these ancient, from my perspective, folk is that they care less and less about what anyone else thinks. This is over-simplified. Clearly. But it’s logical that if you’ve seen enough of life’s experiences, you’ll become more and more accepting of your personality and your character.

The old man lurking inside of me likes the sound of all that. Immensely.

14 Comments

  1. Great post! And I can but agree. The older we get, the less we care about unimportant little details like “what would others think?”.

    This sounds like a pleasant state of mind. Free, even. And miles away from the tortured self-awareness of the teenager.

    It might not be so bad getting old (or rather: older) after all.

    PS: Thanks for the linkback!

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  2. I am not always sure about the “with age, comes wisdom” theory. I know with age comes aches and pains. And a fear of not having accomplished everything possible in your life. Books unread, things like that.

    You do realize as you get older that so much of what people hold as important is not really that big of a deal.

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  3. My next door neighbor is old and she is much more obsessed with the details of life than what seems normal. She was worried about me because I forgot to take the trash bin to the curb on trash day. This is a sure sign that something is terribly wrong. Also, if there is no mail that is a huge sign of civilization grinding to a sudden halt. If she doesn’t get mail on a given day, she will come to me and ask if we got mail. Apparently, zombie apocalypse starts at the post office.

    So, I am already planning for my old age. I will not give a crap about mail, or trash cans. I am sure I will find something equally irrelevant to obsess over, however. And won’t even realize it.

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  4. I wonder what I should be accomplishing now that I will regret not accomplishing once I am older. What is there to accomplish? Is there some sort of list I should be reviewing?

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  5. As a very old person I feel I have a valid opinion on what it’s like to be old. One advantage I have is, because I have packed such a lot of interesting experiences, good and bad, into my life, I have a huge store of *film* in my head which I can replay any time I like. One disadvantage is that there is always someone to worry about, in my case, grandchildren and great- grandchildren. Another is that I have become invisible!

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    1. What a great perspective you must have Barbara.

      All I want to know about now are the difficult things and how you persevered.

      I hope I have half as interesting a *film* to play in my head when I get where you are.

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