Who cares what age you are?
This week I have a new hero and I am overcome with admiration for him.
My hero is Sir Muir Gray, a Glaswegian doctor who has worked for the NHS in England since 1972. I hadn’t even heard of him until last week.
I was happily driving home at lunch time on Wednesday listening to the Jeremy Vine Show on Radio 2. It could easily have been an item that made me switch off my radio in despair at the argumentative nature of the participants, but it wasn’t like that at all.
There was my hero talking about living well for as long as possible. He advocated dumbbells and a resistance band as ideal presents for a 70 year old. Oh, and the ceremonial burning of slippers. But then, oh joy, the programme also interviewed Dr Charles Eugster, a retired dentist who has just broken the over 95s 200m world record. He was wonderful. Another hero. Not least because he only started exercising aged 85.
The programme included commentary on the world record breaking run. Please please listen to it if you can. I won’t be Charles Eugster’s age for well over 40 years. If I go backwards that many years I find I was in primary school. No wonder I was inspired.
My mother would be thrilled to discover that Muir Gray is not keen on bungalows as we age. He is a big fan of stairs. He didn’t mention my mother’s concern that bungalows lead to ‘housemaid’s knee’ but he definitely shares her appreciation of houses with stairs.
I don’t think I can do justice to the inspiration I derived from exposure to Sir Muir Gray in just one blog post. I may have to devote two to his wonderfulness. So many things he said really struck a chord. A couple I have even written about before without even being aware of my hero and his wisdom.
I have already looked at balance
and even a little bit about having a positive attitude
but I can’t resist saying even more about feeling positive.
Muir Gray advocates guarding against a particular age seeming daunting. I love the fact that this came up just before I spoke to a 59 year old who told me that hitting 50 had been fine but that facing her 60th birthday next year was faintly horrifying as that really seemed old. Stop and think for a moment if you feel like that about a forthcoming birthday. It really doesn’t make sense.
Something dramatic doesn’t suddenly happen to you when you reach a milestone birthday. You don’t wake up that morning to find you aren’t the same person you were the day before. You don’t suddenly look dramatically older. Thank goodness. Imagine for a moment what it would be like if we really did wake up on the morning of a big birthday to discover we had transmogrified into someone much older, and possibly much grumpier, than the person we had been the day before. Imagine not only our own sense of horror at the prospect but the same anguished anticipation from all those who know us.
Apparently one answer to the impending dread of a forthcoming birthday is to think of an innocuous age a year or two after your last significant birthday. Do you honestly feel older than you did then? Please don’t mournfully say that you do. I am sure the answer, for almost everyone, should really be ‘no’. No one who loves you cares a jot about how old you are. They just care about you.
Do be positive about ageing. After all, you started ageing some time between twenty and thirty. And I bet you didn’t even notice back then.
So, whatever your age, seize new opportunities. Of course that can be daunting, but everything suggests that life is a lot more enjoyable if you realise problems really can be overcome and that learning something new can be fun. And good for you too.
I have just read that general knowledge and vocabulary actually improve with age. How fantastic. You can keep reading, learning and happily (please do it happily) interacting with others throughout your life and whatever your age. And those things will all help us enjoy life too. Yes, reasoning and decision making may take longer as we get older, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be done. And learning something new is wonderful for perking up your brainpower. You can start with something really simple if you like.
Of course there is still going to be illness and disease, but who doesn’t want to live well for as long as they possibly can?
Any age is the right age to embrace life and all it has to offer. There is always something to be grateful for, or to admire, even in the grimmest times. We just have to find it.
Who cares what age you are? Probably only you.