Getting old: Some more thoughts

In a few months, I will be 65 years old. According to most people, survey companies, and the UK government, that is officially old. Old enough to receive my Old Age Pension, and to qualify for Senior Citizen discounts wherever they are offered. My Mum once told me that she felt just the same, despite being old. Inside, she was the same woman she had always been; with the same thoughts, hopes, desires, and unfulfilled dreams. One day, she assured me, I would understand exactly what she meant.
However, as I approach the age she was when she imparted that knowledge, I find myself disagreeing with her. For I am not the same. Far from it.

Life has made me cynical and unimpressed. Along the way I have discovered that dreams are just that, and that belief in the innate goodness of mankind to rise above circumstances is only for films and TV shows. Most of the things I believed in when I was young did not endure a life of work and experiences; some good, many not so. On the plus side, I have started to feel more comfortable in my ever-slackening skin, and content with my lot. I am less concerned about what others think of me, and therefore more forthright in my opinions. I have (almost) reached a pivotal age, one where life turns from whatever it was before, into those later years, when everything naturally slows down.

So, as I often do, I have some advice for you.

Don’t get a tortoise as a pet.
Before too long, you will begin to recognise too many similarities between you and the reptile. The saggy neck, extending chin, a clumsier and much slower gait, and a propensity to withdraw inside a shell of your own making.

Be aware of your limitations.
That younger you inside (if it is still there) might be telling you that you can still do all the things you did ten years ago. Climb up there, lift that up, cut that, dig this, or shift those. As you do so, you might notice that they were not quite as easily done as you remembered. Two days later, and you will find it difficult to even get out of bed.

Beware of bumps, cuts, and jumps.
Things no longer seem to heal. The slightest cut on head or hand will take forever to close. A small bump against a fence or a wall will hurt much more than you ever imagined it could, and present you with a technicolour bruise, out of all proportion to the injury sustained. For the same reasons, avoid jumping off of or over anything too. You will find that your body’s natural shock absorption is all but gone.

Read things twice.
Your eyesight will no longer be what you imagine it is. Reading an important document, government letter, or even a blog post, you will unconsciously presume some of the words and phrases, even though you are unaware of doing so. This can lead to some unfortunate misunderstandings. So read them twice, and preferably in a good light too.

Allow more time.
You don’t drive as fast as you used to, and traffic seems to be worse than it was. You cannot walk as fast either, so don’t presume you will catch that bus, or make the train connection in ten minutes. Think of how much time you would have allowed ten years ago, then double it.

Avoid mirrors where possible.
Looking at yourself in a mirror is a sure path to depression. Even catching sight of yourself unexpectedly, perhaps in a shop window, or passing a mirror, can lead to that worrying “Is that me?” moment. Get dressed before looking at your body in a mirror, and if you are a man, shave quickly, then get out of the bathroom. Undue contemplation of your physical and facial decline will not help at all.

There are so many more, I could write all afternoon. But I will leave it at those five tips for now.
If you abide by them, you might just live happily for another ten years, until you are 75.

Then you will really be old.

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44 thoughts on “Getting old: Some more thoughts

  1. I have read this blog quite a few times, each with a wry smile as the pictures once more flood into my minds eye. I am 59 and have decidedly slowed down over the past twelve months, it takes more out of me now to do the two or three mile walks and a little shudder goes down my back when we do ‘the canal’ – a 6 mile round trip. I still do weights every morning and if I miss a morning I certainly feel the punishment the following morning!

    I first noticed I was slowing down when I was about 23 or 24 and couldn’t play wing anymore and had dropped back to midfield. This trend just went on and on at a nice ambling pace. I’m still strong, very strong but the stamina is sadly lacking. My eyesight is a conundrum – I can see distance and don’t need glasses to drive but can’t read without glasses. I’ve been the same weight for years and the same 32 inch waist – just hoping this doesn’t start to go pear shape.

    I love all the posts – bright sunshine in an autumnal world!

    Long may it (and you) and me for that matter, last!

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    1. Thanks, Gary. You are doing better than me. I can’t lift weights anymore. My muscle tissue was destroyed by being on statins for years. The GP in Norfolk took me off them. “Just in time”, she said. My waist is 36″, and has been for a very long time, and I have weighed more or less the same (slightly over) weight for the same period too. I have worn glasses for reading since I was in my late 40s, but also don’t need them for driving, TV, cinema, etc.

      I have done that canal walk myself. Hemel to Apsley, around in a loop. It’s pleasant on a nice day, maybe stop for a drink at the Paper Mill pub.
      Glad you are still enjoying my posts. They keep me young!
      Best wishes to you both. Pete.

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  2. Where does that shock absorption go? I used to leap over stiles and clamber up rocky hillsides, bouncing my way through life, but now? The landing vibrates all the way to the brain! And hurts!

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  3. I suspect, my friend, you have always been on the cynical, melancholy side. Only the weed in you is now fully in bloom! Aches and pain, a dour outlook, well, I’m not 65 so I can’t tell you that you’re wrong. I think blogging for you is just what the doctor ordered. You socialize, you pledge best wishes every day, and you have friends with virtual people. I know if I didn’t have my blogging friends, my life would be the less for it. Plus, we can’t see your sagging everything. We only see the mind and heart of Pete, the part that matters. So chin up, mate, and best wishes!

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  4. Ah Pete I agreed with a lot of what you say, but I am still an optimist when it comes to people.
    I bruise easier now, I am more short sighted now and I don’t recognise the woman who stares back at me from the mirror and I have more grey hair than last year (which I love), but nice people do good things everyday, we just hear all the bad stuff as it sells newspapers.
    There are always wars – but they are caused by governments.
    People are the same all over the world. Some bad, some good.
    There are billions of people who do small acts of kindness everyday that get lost in the ether, but change other people’s lives and make them bearable.
    I believe in paying it forward as well, doing a kind act, just because you can. Doesn’t even need to be someone you know, or even like.
    I am not religious, so I am not saying this to get a better seat in the afterlife amphitheatre, This life is too short and can be too brutal for some, so we should ‘spread a little happiness’ as we go through life. Captain Sensible had it right :0)

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    1. I do try to help when I can. Kate. I did volunteering locally for three years, take dogs out for other people, always try to be polite and respectful on the blogs, and do my best to be kind to old ladies and people I encounter in the street. This post was perhaps more about disappointment. Voluntary organisations that treat people like employees, rather than volunteers. People who do not return favours, and those that shut themselves away.
      Above all though, it was meant to be read with an eye to humour. A sort-of Beetley version of Victor Meldrew.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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      1. Hello Pete. Well done for volunteering all that time! Some people do treat volunteers as employees (volunteer managers and the public) My Nan was a volunteer at the WVRS until she was in her late 70’s & some people could be very rude.
        I loved the ‘never get a tortoise’ and ‘avoid mirrors where possible’. Definitely had tones of Meldrew type humour there. :0)
        Best wishes Pete :0)

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  5. Good grief. My grandmother was in her 80s and as sprightly as a teen. I am hoping to be the same. I’m sorry you feel dreams just remain dreams. I still believe in them. However, I’ve just met someone who’s dream has come true, and it hasn’t made them as happy as they expected. Perhaps working towards something is more important than achieving it? Anyway. I wish you good cheer. all the best. Karen

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    1. Thanks, Karen. Congratulations to your grandmother. I hope that she goes on for many more years yet. For myself, I confess to feeling my age frequently, and have lived a life generally disappointed by humanity. Then again, I worked in jobs where I saw people at their worst, for the most part.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  6. Had a good laugh Pete, thanks! My golden rule, although I still have 17 years until retirement, is to keep moving. I have already noticed that if I stop for more than a few days it hard to get back into the swing of things again. Equally though I try not to do too much, Rome wasn’t built in a day and if it takes another year to finish the house then so be it, just don’t tell Gosia!

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    1. I doubt you have to worry yet, at your age mate. Then again, you do live a very physical lifestyle, and that will naturally take its toll.
      Glad to give you a chuckle, which was the intention.
      Cheers, Pete.

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  7. Pete, I find myself hopping off boulders when rock scrambling (though I sometimes regret the landing part), and flying up the stairs like a (flu stricken) teenager here at home. My skin doesn’t qualify for any SAG awards just yet (though it acts like it does). As for my attitude towards the (bleepin’) world, it’s as positive as ever! Anyway, I’d say more, but i want to catch Chuck Norris in my favorite TV show, “Walker: How a Texas Ranger Gets Around Now.”

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  8. Oh dear lord Pete! Phil and I are 5 & 8 years behind you, but I already recognise some of those points! Phil in particular is only just becoming ‘aware of his limitations’ when he did his back in picking up a paving slab and was in pain for 2 weeks, we had to get a man in to finish the job. The best bit is the man was older than him! I just hate the mirror now and when I do catch sight of myself am reminded straight away of my mother! All my clients tell me getting old is not for the faint-hearted, and advise me not to do it, but there is no stopping the ravages of time 😦 On a good note I am looking forward to free bus travel, and am planning excursions all over the country to take advantage of it πŸ™‚

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