Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It's all relative . . .

On several occasions recently I've heard you murmur, rather gloomily, that you're getting old. Adding, on an even gloomier note that you’ll soon be sixty.
Now, I've a secret to share with you. It's a wonderful secret, something few people know about.
So, listen very carefully . . .

There are ages in life that everyone dreads - and they all end with a nine. There's twenty-nine, thirty-nine, forty-nine, and so on. Each of these years is noteworthy because it marks the end of a decade. It marks a time of exhaustion, often of disappointment. The decade hasn't fulfilled all its glowing promises, the ten years have been tiring and demanding. It's rather like being in the top class at a Primary School, you are old before your time, carrying responsibilities that you don't feel ready to bear. To make things worse you dread the sense of a new decade. Oh, the horror of being, thirty, or forty, or fifty or - barely to be contemplated - sixty!

Then the dreaded day arrives, when - reluctantly, unwillingly - you step over that unwelcome frontier.
And where do you find yourself?
To your great surprise and amazement . . . it's wonderful!
There you are, a positive babe at the start of a whole new cycle. Stretching out before you, is another decade of promise. Instead of being careworn and sullied, trapped in the past, this decade is new and shining. You are a mere thirty, or forty, or fifty or sixty. You haven't even yet reached the age of sixty-one. You are a new boy in a new club - and, for a day at least, you are the very youngest member of this new club!

So, enjoy it! As the dawn rises on your birthday look out over the clean, promising, wonderful and infinitely challenging landscape of the sixties and realise just how fortunate you are!

I should add that there is one truly sobering and remarkable thing about growing older. No, not the need for glasses and the faltering memory, it’s the undeniable fact that you don't . . . you don't grow older.
Oh yes, your hair starts to grey, your waistline moves in totally unexpected directions, and your hips take on a mind of their own. But, basically, the person who wakes up in the morning is exactly the same person who's greeted the dawn with varying degrees of enthusiasm throughout your life.
In fact, unlikely as it may seem, you’ve possibly grown younger. I was extremely wise in my teens, amazingly worldly in my twenties - perhaps the only wisdom I've acquired over the years is the wisdom to know that I'm not wise, the knowledge to know that I've everything to learn. I sometimes think that it would amaze the average teenager to know that their grandparents are capable of enjoying the same emotional and mental roller-coaster that they do! No, that's not quite true, with a little bit of luck their grandparents will have acquired the talent to laugh at themselves and their follies, and therein lies the difference - the gift of age is the grace-giving ability to see the funny side.

Mind you, I found it hard to see the funny side this morning. On the radio a young man was being interviewed about the popularity of his web-site.
"And tell me," said the interviewer, "is its appeal limited to young people?"
"Oh, no!" said the website designer enthusiastically, "We cover a wide age range. We've even heard from a supporter aged thirty-three!"'

Birthday wishes from your friend in her dotage!