|William Blake - Milton in His Old Age|
My social life these days tends to consist less of the events I have attended and is now more of the events that I have not attended.
Was going to go to the Belgian Bar in Ramsgate where a mate, sorry Jason, was having a private view of his new art show. I said to my girlfriend ‘fancy going down straight after work, getting fish and chips and eating it in the Harbour, going to the exhibition and getting back home around 9pm-ish?’ On Friday, after work, we arrive home, slump on the sofa and look each other in the eye. She says; ‘Can we not go to Ramsgate but still have fish and chips? I’ll go and get them.’ Fatigue and old age bite home hard.Does this philosophic shift in emphasis from the ‘must do’ to the ‘must I?’ school of thought have something to do with 'bis again pueri senes' (and now again that old men are twice children) is that the most I really want to do is play with my friends in the school yard.
Appreciating simple joy in the presence of a human being that is like me, let’s me be myself and loves me for it. I of course do the same for them.
Is it an age thing? Or just a thing?
Coming to terms with the realities of aging is an empowerment. When you get older, you lose your anger. It takes too much energy to be angry when you’re older. You have more important things to do with your waning energy, so you hoard it like a dwindling resource. It’s easier to be friends than ram some point home via an argument or a silent two weeks. An all night party could drain the old energy-o-meter and take days to recharge so oh so reluctantly I accept an invite to party all night these days. My girlfriend says, around 2 to 3 in the morning “I’m all talked out” and it’s time to go. This weekend I’m going to Zoe’s birthday party on the beach. We did this a few years ago and there was a bomb on the beach and the police were most unforgiving and treat us really badly imposing a Section 63 on us and just generally treating us with no respect and maximum hassle like were not really people who deserved any consideration. We don’t like that. Any hassle these days instead of getting all fired up and indignant I exhibit a certain restrained obstreperousness and really and thoroughly flatly refuse to stop or move or dismantle anything until the very, very last second. I make them work for their pay when they deal with us. But never a is a cross word said and we, by contrast are always polite in the face force.
My old mate has ‘trouble’ with his neighbours when he ‘invites a few people around’ for ‘a cup of tea’ after the pub or party and ends up spanking away all night on the decks, music blaring. Not for me. Sorry. To be able to commit to a nice gathering back at someone’s place, and there is nothing more conducive to civilised activity and social intercourse than that let me tell you, I have to know it really is going to be ‘a safe environment’; that we are not going to be disturbed, that it is OK and cool for us to be there. Any trace of potential intrusion or disturbance; I’m out of there. Precious energy, see? Can’t waste it. It lasts longer if it’s positive though. Did you know that?
At the party, when you get a bit older, like, 40 (lie), which is what I am, it’s not always about you. In fact these days it’s never about you. You no longer wait for an opening in a conversation to talk about yourself, your dreams and your accomplishments. It becomes second nature to draw other people into talking about their lives. Besides their lives seem so much more urgent; so much need to prove themselves, to justify themselves to sound off their dreams to someone who might approve or verify their decisions. You’re no longer the life of the party, making people laugh. You no longer have that neurotic compulsion to be known. Why should you? You get older, you know yourself. When you know yourself you have no need to large it anymore. Wastes a lot of that precious positive energy.
It’s harsh but it’s true; you get older, you need less. Less food, less booze, less sex, less sleep, less drugs. All of that is great and relevant to me. Except food. I tend to eat more food these days but exercise and move around less so the old middle age spread spreads and, yes, you have to take more stick from the fattist and the prejudiced and the nasty bastards who have just got to make negative comments; just got to. Not one ounce of positivity in them see? Doesn’t spark anger in me any more sparks a need to walk away and hang out with genuinely funny people.
Well, no you don’t have to take it actually. They’re using up their energy but not mine because I expect that kind of response from them and they are not funny or clever; merely the opposite of that but I’m not going to tell them that. I’m going home and then spending time with my positive, loving friends and I’m not going out. For a while.
You also need more; more peace and quiet, more positivity, more honesty, more job satisfaction, more stability, more great music, more close friends, more quiet love, more time in your garden, more Yorkshire tea. But I A propositum aberrare, declinare, deflectare, digredi, egredi. (digress from the point at issue).
I’m a bit of a disappointment to my girlfriend. She always tells me I am anyway. Not in that way so directly. It hurts anyway and it sets me back. It takes me a long time to get intimate with someone but when I do I think it is the best feeling on earth. It takes me time though. I don’t admire the people who can disconnect their feelings to use someone for casual sex. Never could do that. Tried but can’t; doesn’t feel right to me. Always had to be connected. Always. That’s why I was always hurt even after the short relationships moved on over the hill. They were not attached to me but I’m still attached to them through threads of love that cannot be broken. Ever.
You get older, your cats get older too. It never dawned on you, when you got them, that they’d get old, one year after another, and then die. Now they’re between 15 and 16 years old. They have their good days and bad days, like you.
You get older, you set goals for yourself that seem meaningless to others. Not to you.
You get older, you want to become abstemious. You never buy clothes for yourself anymore.
You get older, your looks go. You don’t care. You look at that photograph of an old man, and say out loud, “Jeez, I look like an old man!” Your friends call back, “You are an old man.”
You get older, small things give you pleasure that were once an annoyance. You get older, you realize order is freedom. You do your job more professionally, no longer on the fly.
You get old, your dreams constrict. You no longer expect fame and fortune. Your writing gets small. Fewer words. But cleaner, you hope. More nuance, less obvious. Subtle, you like to think. Like your life. Small essays about getting old.
You get older, you cry more. Not over your lost dreams, your sins, your old age, your impending death. You cry for others. You cry when a friend tells you she has inoperable cancer and she’ll never see 60.
You cry for everyone but yourself because you have lived a wonderful life, and you wish that every person, every pet, could live such a life too.
When you were young, you cried only for yourself.
When you were young, you cried only for yourself.
Si vis amari, ama - If you wish to be loved, love.