I am over fifty so… it’s all but over for me, is it?
Everywhere I look, in my daily newspaper, in magazines, leaflets and booklets that tumble through my letterbox, on bus adverts and these annoyingly persistent on-line ads that announce, “Over fifties’ health plan / life insurance / home equity release scheme/ travel insurance / no medicals/ Tenfor Ladies Always Discreet pads for the active “mature” lady”… I am reminded that I had better think of slowing down. I am over fifty so…?
Honest to God, perhaps I should just give up and accept that I’m old. But I don’t feel old, and in more ways than I can enumerate I feel younger, more able, more positive and more alive than I did when my age was thirty-something. I’m not just saying that, either. I have a much better grasp of what my life is for, what I can do to feel more excited, more interested and more alive. And, I would like to be allowed to do that without being dogged by the constant, promoted assumption that because I am – ta da! – over fifty, I somehow need to slow down, take it easy, ease up a bit.
I resolutely refuse to slow down, even though, in many ways, I have slowed down. I no longer pelt along the street and slam into the pavements when I fall because I’m moving so fast. Instead, I saunter, and trip and fall in a more graceful pile but, I don’t seem to notice, even with my reduced speed and my care with each step, that I am much slower than I was before.
And what is this obsession with speed, anyway? I notice it at the leisure centre, where people in the fast lane of the pool seem to swim with an almost permanent grimace on their faces. If I was watching them, I would say they hate swimming and want to get it over with as soon as possible. Do I feel like that, always counting lengths and desperate to get to twenty so I can get out and leave? Actually, yes, I had to admit, I do, often. Which is stupid.
Being aware of something we dislike is the first step to stopping it. I dislike this notion that the over fifties are on the verge of obsolescence, decayed, faded and tired. What about kind and patient? What about character-filled and interesting? Are all such qualities to be brushed aside because we walk with a stagger or a stoop, and because we insist on writing, “The man with whom I was talking” instead of “The man that I was talking to”?
Thanks for listening.