I’m thinking I’m surviving oldish age pretty well at the moment. Certainly I touch wood as I say this (let’s not antagonise the gods) but I’m almost 73 and I’m not gaga yet, which has to be a positive.
What’s more I still enjoy the surf and I can still stand on one leg to put my jeans on – this last being a sure sign of survival imo.
Mind you I do admit I’m lucky. I obviously inherited my grandmother’s ox-like constitution – she who scrubbed and whitewashed the sandstone step to the back veranda until she was in her nineties, lest anyone think her standards were slipping. I didn’t inherit her fierce dedication to scrubbing and polishing, but perhaps in me it shows up as an ingrained resistance to giving in: you need to carry your suitcase or your hefty weekly shopping up four flights of stairs? Then get on with it, woman, and don’t even think about whingeing.
Not everyone gets as lucky as I did in the genetic draw, and many people more athletic than I (it wouldn’t be hard) suffered injuries in their youth that have come back to bite them and hamper their mobility. But surviving the aging process involves far more than physical sprightliness or lack thereof.
As with so many of life’s vicissitudes, a lot depends on attitude. If you’re going to focus on your wrinkles and your saggy bits, you’re absolutely guaranteed to be miserable. Because you are going to get them, you know, and I’m yet to be convinced that they matter. Even KK will wrinkle and sag one day, however blind she might be to the prospect now, and however much money she spends reversing the signs. And in the final analysis, would her wrinkle-free state contribute more to the human condition than – say – Mother Theresa, who I daresay didn’t worry too much about cellulite?
It’s also inevitable that you slow down as you get older, and again – what does it really matter if you can no longer run for the bus? Because that’s one of the joys of it – you have time to wait for the next one.
The temptation to feel sorry for our aging selves is certainly there, and having a bit of a wallow in self pity from time to time is probably an essential form of self-nurturing that keeps the blood pressure at an acceptable level, but I wouldn’t be young again for quids. The rush, the angst, the responsibility – the focus on ‘getting ahead’, ‘achieving’, and generally living up other people’s expectations.
There’s a freedom in old age. I’m glad I lived long enough to embrace it.