"People on this continent are living longer than they have ever done, so far as we know. Does that mean that more and more of us are younger longer? Or does this mean that we are getting older sooner, that we’ll be old longer than ever before? Where does this “more time” place us in the arc of life? And when does this “more time” that is here for us to enjoy actually happen, now that we are hurtling along the changing rate of change? Is it sprinkled throughout the life span, extending all the stages of life by some mysterious increment? Or is it all saved up for the ignominious denouement, age having become not much more than an over-extended time for fingering the rosary of loss?" — Stephen Jenkinson, Come of Age: The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble
Good morning from a cold, slightly damp Devon — it rained heavily in the night.
Monday came and went. The highlight: cleaning out the fridges. Still, at least now, I feel safe eating what remains and know exactly what we've got/haven't got!
Yesterday, as you may have seen, if you follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, I wiped off the dust, found the zip and opened up the case to my old Brother typewriter. It's been in my office a for a few years but hasn't received any — no I mean ANY — attention.
Sadly, the black ribbon was shot — dry as a bone (the red part was fine) — and so, having cut some A4 paper in half, I cranked out half-a-dozen, not-very-well-crafted poems in red ink. It felt...well, it felt good — my typing was sluggish but the words flowed freely. It didn't feel contrived or being done to impress — LOL.
I love writing poetry. Trouble is, I've not found the best method or surface upon which to apply my wares. Let's hope this works and the inspiration kicks in again tonight. I hope so. It will make a nice interlude to my day. I should add that there's a bit of Bukowski fandom kicking in. Sad, eh! To think I've got to find a dead poet to be inspired but it's the truth. No, as much as I wish (only a little) that he was my nightly muse, the biggest issue as Hemmingway and so many others have so eloquently put it, is to sit down and do the bloody work!
What then of my slightly lofty title?
I'll keep it brief.
I'm 52; I'll be 53 in August, and that's well over half my life done. In fact, for all I know, death may be just around the corner.
But am I old?
What, in any event, is old?
An acceptance of life?
Wisdom — who decides that?
Kindness in spades?
Being you — at last?
Speaking a lot less?
Giving up on all those lofty dreams?
Being bone-weary tired?
Perhaps it's nothing to remark on — sorry. But, then again, I wish we venerated or even listened to those older people who might, just might, have something to say, particularly about our current predicament.
And, no, I'm not referring to the War narrative that's being prayed in aid to beat CV19. I mean something that's thoughtful, loving and in spirit makes us believe — young and old — that we don't have to keep striving for a chimaera fashioned by the ad men. What do I mean? I mean, we've squeezed out a voice of reason for how it was or how it might be different to what we've so easily got used to. My parents' generation didn't get it all wrong — nor for that matter has mine — and just once in a while, it might be a good idea not just to listen to their stories, but the gaps between the stories, that say so very much.
Take something like doing without. Some people still have to through circumstance or a few choose to but most people are brought up to believe that if you want it, you can have it with a big fat cherry on the top. But where's the voice crept in, old or not so old, to invite the question:
What does a world of less look like?
Sorry, I'm going off the point.
What does it mean to be old?
And once we've answered that question, what does that mean?
For my part, perhaps this is no more than a rant at all the fresh faces that I see doling out great gobs of advice as if they have all the answers.
But do they?
Perhaps we should look more acutely at the older generation just once in a while or better still seek out someone wiser than us — and that's not a klaxon call for more experts.
Someone not only worth listening to for more than a few milliseconds but someone we actually trusted.