Growing Old Gracefully

LudditeWhilst I was away in the UK I had a painful wake up call to the fact that I am no longer, as they say, a ‘spring chicken’.

On 30th December I was sat opposite my 18 year old cousin discussing the options of what to do on New Year’s Eve. She politely told me, with no hint of malice, that if I wanted to go to the same pub as her, I would probably be OK, since lots of old people went there too…..resisting the urge to leap across the table and grab her by the throat, I took a deep breath and reflected on the fact that I am, in fact, twice her age, so, of course she thinks I am old.

My inevitable march toward death and decay was reconfirmed this week when, after partying until the wee small hours on Sunday morning, I only recovered my energy and full function of my few remaining brain cells, yesterday (being Wednesday), three days after the event. Ten years ago that wouldn’t have been all that unusual on a week night – on Saturdays, I just didn’t go to bed.

I think my problem is the people I hang around with. We’re all over the 30+ mark. Some of us more than others. It seems to me that the more 30+ they are, the more energetic and active they seem to be. So I naturally think that I should be the same.

The other feature that our group of friends seems to possess is that they are all getting older in style. The picture above is one I took on Saturday night. It’s a tattoo that my friend recently had done when accompanying his 21 year old daughter to the tattoo shop to have her first ‘ink’.

Now this guy is a respectable father of two, with the usual trappings of a middle class life and responsible job. The only difference is he mountain bikes, climbs, dances until 5 in the morning and has a tattoo that says ‘Luddite’ on his chest. If you don’t know what a Luddite is, you are completely missing a wonderful irony – Wikipedia has an excellent definition, just enter ‘Luddite’ into the search bar.

Then of course there’s my female friend (who shall remain nameless) who is closer to fifty than forty, who goes out and regularly wins the Ontario Cup cycling races. Or the friend of Rob’s, who started climbing at the age of fifty and is now scaling the sort of multi pitch climbs that you see in Nike adverts that advise you to ‘Just Do It’. Of course I could also mention my own mother here who, at the age of 58 (or something like that) went out and did a race that involved climbing up and down various British mountains for twelve hours none stop.

I could honestly give many more appropriate examples, but I just can’t work out why these people have such grace when almost everyone else at that age in the population has a burgeoning waistline, complex health issues and they think that test driving the new SUV they are going to buy is the most exciting thing they have done all year. I think it has something to do with an all out refusal to admit that things necessarily have to be different just because they have a few more years under their belt. Long may it continue.

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