Monday, 8 August 2011

Getting older

Still dissertating away (I realise that dissertating isn't a word, but I reckon that the more I use it, the more likely it is to be added to the OED. It describes perfectly the act of writing a dissertation.). Its painfully slow, I now have four weeks to finish researching and writing. I'm sure all will be well that ends well. But this is why the posts have stopped, why my friends have barely heard from me and why the dark circles under my eyes are becoming more prominent.

Anyway, the above title is from a BBC article I read today. Its from a few days back, but I only thought to read it now. Its about how more of us will live until we're 100, and why so many of us young 'uns don't think about growing old. Apparently its because people don't want to get frail and helpless. Apparently they don't look forward to it.

I must be a freak, then. I can't wait to get old! I don't smoke, I am not a regular drinker. I'm relatively active (I could definitely improve the amount I exercise.) and my diet is good. In theory, touch wood, turn around three times and spit, I should end up healthy come old age. To me getting old isn't about frailty and illness. Its about having lived your life, having had children, gotten married, experienced joys and suffering. Its about gaining wisdom, worrying less, realising there's no point in stressing. I am a worrier. I can't sleep sometimes when I think about the future. When I look around and see people my age unemployed, unable to find a job after months, sometimes years of looking I worry that will be me. I see people getting married, buying houses, having children. I worry that won't be me. I don't worry all the time, I'd be a wreck if I did. But I certainly worry too much for my own good. I have, however, found that this has decreased over time, the more I learn that you can't control everything. The more I learn that things will happen eventually. But still, I long for the days when I can just sit back and see that I did (eventually) get a career. That I did have a family, even if it consists of animals instead of children, even if it means adopting because I can't carry a child of my own. I'm looking forward to just being able to spend time in the garden of the house I will eventually own and make my own, to have time to sit and watch the insects and birds enjoying my space.

I also look forward to living without the fear of the future. To be able to just spend what I've saved on holidays abroad. I plan on being one of those "Woman, 75, climbs Kilimanjaro for the 4th time" old people. I want to camper van it around Europe every summer, go on holiday to India in the winter. I don't plan on stopping and just sitting in my house, knitting. I can take my knitting to Cambodia! I plan on traveling while I'm young, but alongside all that traveling, I also have to save money for said house, said animals and possible children, for food, and bills, and that "rainy day" that will inevitably come. When I'm 80, I don't plan on spending all my money in one go, but I also have no plans on leaving a fortune to my children. I'll try and make sure they get something from a trust fund at the age of 21, but the rest of it: well, dammit, I worked for it, I saved it, I'm going to damn well spend it! And they aren't bloody well sponging off me anymore!

I love the poem When I get old, I'll wear purple. I WANT to buy clothing that looks wrong on a woman my age, eat cream cakes for breakfast and misbehave in a way I never could when I was young. Old age may come with aches and pains. I don't know for certain that I'll be healthy and strong (I do have some pretty good genes going, though). But I don't know if my youth will be pain free and healthy, so there's no point in dwelling on the negatives. I like to see being old as enjoying the freedom that you cannot while you're younger. To know that you have lived, and to be determined to live even more until you die. It is a beginning of its own, not an end. It is the autumnal years. And autumn brings with it the beauty of colours not seen during other seasons. It brings with it wonderful memories of spring and summer. The freedom of knowing winter shall soon arrive, so you better make the most of the sunlight and pleasant weather before the frosts and cold hit.

I leave you with some words that constantly get sent to me in various emails. But that I truly believe with all my heart:

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "Wow! What a ride!"

Don't fear old age. Embrace it.

P.S. soon I shall add some pretty photo's again!

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