Saturday, March 30, 2019

Working it out




I am still wrestling with the idea that I am going to be 70 this year, and wondering what it means for me and my life. Perhaps it doesn't mean very much, just as passing from December 31st to January 1st means little, though people mark it as the start of a new year, with new aims and purposes.

When I was about to turn 60 I felt the same, and asked various friends who were already that great age how they felt and if they were approaching their lives any differently. That resulted in my taking up the sax, and having a slackline in the garden.







So far I've only asked one wise friend about being a 70-something - someone who happens to be in his 80s and is still active politically, socially and physically. I explained I wanted to do something 'useful' to help people, and he said I should start by considering what brought me joy. Then think about what are my main concerns, and see if I could bring the two together. 

I don't think it's going to work. What brings me joy is being outside in the countryside, either walking or cycling or gardening, and being with friends and family, while my main concerns are refugees and food poverty.

I asked a member of the family who is in his thirties about what I should do, now that I will not be writing another novel, and he said "Have fun." When friends are seriously ill, and others have already died, there is an argument for seizing the day and packing in as much fun as possible before I too become infirm.

Yesterday I told Dave that when I got back from an early morning errand I was going to drive into Sheffield to buy some knitting wool, but when I got home from the errand the sky was so blue and the sun so bright and I knew it was the last day before the Sheffield school holidays began and the Trail would for two weeks be full of visitors, so I went out for a long bike ride instead of going to town. I didn't regret it. But I was knackered,and couldn't do much for the rest of the day but sit around in the sunshine.

Old age feels like a balancing act - between enjoying what your savings can buy, and keeping enough for possibly decades of rainy days; between having fun, and helping other people; between taking it easier because you're older, and pushing yourself everyday to keep fit.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: old age ain't for cissies.

p.s. I just had a lovely Mother's Day card saying - 
"Hope you can rest on your laurels a bit after 48 busy years!"

2 comments:

Phoebe said...

You’ve expressed so many of my feelings. I want add something. Having fun doesn’t have to mean fun per se. It means to live life fully and to pursue things with both joy and meaning. It can mean a hike, or knitting, or changing your plans or make the most of a trail that will be crowded for the next two weeks, or taking political action. It means *engagement* with life, it taking whatever positive form it does.

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you for commenting, Phoebe.
I agree with you about fun.
Perhaps instead of saying ‘having fun’ I should have said following my own selfish desires and pursuing activities which bring me joy, while the world goes on suffering and I do nothing to help make things better. But the latter depends on energy as much as cycling and sax playing, and energy is a precious resource at this age.
And so the pondering goes on....