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Tony Grist

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A Landmark [Feb. 27th, 2009|10:45 am]
Tony Grist
I passed a landmark on Monday. Our keep fit instuctor- who is 42 by the way- referred to me- without meaning it as a joke or a jokey insult or anything but a statement of fact- as an old person.

I have just turned 58.

I caught a glimpse of the back of my head in the gents at the Imperial War Museum on Tuesday.  My bald spot is getting to be one of my defining features. I'm as bald as Rudolph Hess was when he sat for Dame Laura Knight at Nuremburg.

Age is partly in the mind. My mother- at 87- isn't old.  Unlike me she can get down on her knees and up again without a whole lot of theatrical groaning.

Some people embrace old age- with its dubious privileges- as early as they can. Evelyn Waugh for instance. A friend of his reported that he seemed to age a decade with every year. We're never told exactly how old Waugh's avatar Pinfold is, but his fixity of mind, his crankiness, his physical wonkiness suggest that he must be at least 60- perhaps pushing 70- and it comes as something of a shock to learn that Waugh himself went through his Pinfold experience at 50.

Which is sillier- to pose as a crotchety old cuss before your time- or to be gulled into spending lots of money on anti-ageing creams, facelifts and the like?

I try to be realistic.  Getting old is an experience like any other.  Things happen to older people that don't happen to younger ones. I am determined to find it interesting...
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2009-02-27 11:50 am (UTC)
I am nearly a year older than you. I don't mess with creams and such, although I do keep my skin moisturised. I play what I call the age card selectively. It's wonderful when you don't want to do something - "Leave me alone, I'm old!" And I definitely notice my body not wanting to be as spry as my mind still is (I envy your mother, my knees sound like fireworks first thing in the morning). But I do think that, at least in my mind, I will always be somewhere around 36, that age chosen because it was the time I decided I was not going to buy into either the eternal youth mystique or the aging because the numbers say you must routine.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-27 12:45 pm (UTC)
There are definitely advantages to getting old.

One of them is that (if you've been paying attention) you're a lot less easy to fool. I guess one word for this is "wisdom".

36 is a good age. I was in my mid thirties when I decided to stop going with the flow and put my life in order.
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[User Picture]From: dakegra
2009-02-27 12:42 pm (UTC)
In my head I'm still in my mid-twenties, and am often surprised to remember that I'm actually in my late thirties. Being 'old' isn't as old as it used to seem when you were young.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-27 12:47 pm (UTC)
From where I'm sitting the late 30s are young. :)

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[User Picture]From: mummm
2009-02-27 02:53 pm (UTC)
Being 'old' isn't as old as it used to seem when you were young.

That makes a great quote!
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[User Picture]From: dakegra
2009-02-27 02:59 pm (UTC)
I surprise myself sometimes. :-)
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From: sculptruth
2009-02-27 04:50 pm (UTC)
I'm constantly marveling at this myself! It's awesome.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2009-02-27 02:24 pm (UTC)
56 going on 57 here and as Carolyn says, the age card is fun to play sometimes. I'm still thankful I can get around and have most of my mind intact. My mother lost just about all her motor abilities to a stroke at age 55 and her mind went slowly after that as well. I feel blessed at this point despite creaky bones and odd ailments.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-27 07:22 pm (UTC)
I've got arthritis, my memory isn't as sharp as it was, I don't have much energy and I've taken to enjoying a nap in the afternoons- but basically I'm in reasonable shape.
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2009-02-27 02:51 pm (UTC)
Well, since I will be 62 next month and was told that I don't look old enough to have retired, I can say that you are NOT OLD.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-27 07:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

And you don't look old enough to be retired- really you don't.
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2009-02-27 08:23 pm (UTC)
I thank you kindly sir! I FEEL old enough though. *L*
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2009-02-27 02:58 pm (UTC)
how strange that my 36 year old friend and I had a conversation about aging this morning. I said I have very little patience with those of my contemporaries who lie about their ages - and I was surprised to find out that MEN do it as well. It has to do with my brother not living past the age of ALMOST 41 (he died in September and his birthday was in October). I figure that aging beats the alternative. Of course, I haven't had to worry much about medical 'stuff' yet, and by that I mean health CARE, not health.

I'm soon to be 58.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-27 08:09 pm (UTC)
I don't think I know anyone who lies about their age- but, then again, how could I ever be sure? I agree; this whole cult of youth is stupid- and makes people stupid.

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From: sculptruth
2009-02-27 04:54 pm (UTC)
I'm always thinking too far ahead -- I look forward to being an old lady. I have to be careful and remember to enjoy being where I am. I spent so much of my early life looking towards adulthood and maturity that I think I poured all my effort into being "older than my years". I've always romanticised age and experience and a notion of freedom that it comes with.

Now of course I'm trying to slow the boat. People seem to think I'm youthful for my "years", but I'm surprised that people would be surprised. So I wouldn't say I'm backpedaling (I really love being in my thirties and you couldn't pay me to be a teenager or in my twenties again) -- but I am trying to be present.

Edited at 2009-02-27 04:54 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-27 09:39 pm (UTC)
Me too. I spent my adolescence desperately trying to be grown up.

But as Dylan puts it, "I'm younger than that now."
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[User Picture]From: chochiyo_sama
2009-02-27 05:57 pm (UTC)
The only thing I don't like about my current age (54) is this damned degenerating joint disease. I know it would be much easier to bear if I lost quite a bit of weight, but i am currently in some sort of funk where i just want to say to hell with it and eat ice cream and sweets and chips and (basically) junk. I have to get my head out of my butt soon, though.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-27 09:43 pm (UTC)
I've put on weight in the last decade. I used to walk everywhere, but arthritis- and car ownership- have made me lazy.

Like you I try to eat sensibly, but some nights it's just so much easier to put a pizza in the microwave or go out for fast food.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-28 12:06 pm (UTC)
Old age is a state of mind. My mother says she feels the same inside as she did at 21.

There are things I like about being "old". I don't suffer from anxiety and migraines the way I did. I'm a lot more mellow.
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[User Picture]From: daisytells
2009-02-27 11:53 pm (UTC)
"determined to find it interesting..."
Well, it is.
I'm 68, but dont look it. However, first thing in the AM, I feel it -- everything hurts, but only until I get moving. I am very fortunate to have been born into a family of nonegenarians, so have twenty five to thirty more years to enjoy -- and "find interesting".
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-28 12:07 pm (UTC)
My family is long-lived too- on both sides. My father made it into his 80s and my mother is 87 and still going strong.
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From: ext_127439
2009-03-03 12:57 pm (UTC)
80's, well, that gives me about 50+ years remaining.
That's really a very long time. Hmm. I better get some more hobbies.
If young again, with the mind you have now but with 50+ years to spend, how would you spend them?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-03-04 10:02 am (UTC)
If I had my time over again- knowing what I know now- I'd become an archaeologist not a priest. That way I wouldn't have to bail out of my career part way through.

But, on the whole, I'm comfortable with my choices. My life seems to have been all tied up with religion- and I don't regret it. It's an endlessly fascinating subject.

The best hobby is reading. There are so many good writers out there- and there's always a new one to discover. Right now I'm getting stuck into Zola.

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