NOW HERE IS A CURIOUS THING: HAVING REACHED AN AGE WHERE I HAVE LESS TIME TO DO THINGS THAT I MIGHT LIKE, I HAVE – PARADOXICALLY – BECOME MORE PATIENT!
The above headline has little to do with what I thought I was about to write, yet it was something I wanted to say which I thought was important. Sometimes words seize the page. Resistance is futile.
The truth is that most of us are afraid of aging – and I doubt I am very different – but another truth is that there are decided compensations emanating from the aging process. They are not, I regret to say, permanent. Life is pretty much about ‘meanwhile.’ I came to that conclusion in my late teens. All the pretty girls seemed have boyfriends but, not infrequently they were European and not in evidence because, conveniently, they lived in continental Europe – a whole sea away. Never underestimate the usefulness of moats. This all happened in Ireland where spending some time abroad seemed to be quite the thing for a well brought-up young lady. That led me to advance the concept of: “Meanwhile, can I take you to the movies?” Or something along those lines.
Since aging is so personal – and varied – I am reluctant to generalize, but I will make a few comments based upon both my personal experience and observation:
- Experience is a great thing, and there are no substitutes for it no matter how young and intelligent you are. But it has to be used to advantage. It is not an end in itself.
- Age brings fear, because you lose your physical abilities to cope as you once did; but it also brings what is generally called ‘wisdom.’ Once again, that has to be used; and it seems to skip a few people.
- Life is hugely – perhaps mostly – about managing fear. Many of us are reluctant to admit such a vulnerability, but it just happens to be true. Does one get better at the task when older? I think so. Practice does yield certain advantages.
- It is absolutely vital to have a purpose in life. There are few sadder people than those who are just waiting to die.
- Being old does not mean you cannot be productive. I am not brave enough to define productive, but you tend to know it when you see it.
- A true writer should never retire, but preferably slump forward at the appropriate time onto his or her keyboard; or fall asleep permanently beside a glass of wine at a nearby bistro. The glass should have been drunk first. It is thoroughly bad form to die leaving a full glass on the table.
I’m prompted to write about such matters because I met a singularly impressive young man on Wednesday; and we have agreed to collaborate on a project; actually two connected projects. Given that I write all day alone, and enjoy it, you may find this odd, but I am really looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together.
Am I certain this will work out? Certainly not; but what is life without risk!
Damned if I know why I am being so philosophical today. It may be the rain. Seattle gray has returned; and the Winter lies ahead. It is rather exciting.