It was a shock to turn 30, but subsequent decades have been illuminating.
Health? Good. Activities? The same. Loss of looks? F– that. Menopause? No hot flashes.
And I am still laughing at The Who’s “My Generation” (1965), written when they were twentyish.
I hope I die before I get old
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
“Don’t trust anybody over 30,” said Jack Weinberg during the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley in 1964. Psychologist Timothy Leary advised us to “tune in, turn on, and drop out.” Logan’s Run, the 1967 dystopian novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, examined authority from a different angle. Set in a future with a population control law requiring people to die at 21, it is the story of Logan, a Sandman/law enforcer who hunts and kills “runners” who try to evade the law. Then he becomes involved with activists on an Underground Railroad escape route and changes his politics. (The book and movie are a bit like Fahrenheit 451, though not as good.)
Now I have never believed in mortality. This decade has taught me about it.
I did not believe my mother would die. I thought she had another decade. She died a few years ago.
Horace said, Carpe diem. (Seize the day.)
And getting older is about that.
I’m not one of those people who will travel to India to find myself.
What I notice with each birthday is that I am pickier about the books I read. How many times will I be able to reread Madame Bovary? I hope many. How about Jane Gaskell’s Atlan quintet? Well, yes, I still have time.
Ian McEwan wrote in The Guardian in 2013 about his loss of faith in literature. (He got it back.) His description of the loss is fascinating.
I’m 64. If I’m lucky, I might have 20 good reading years left. Teach me about the world! Bring me the cosmologists on the creation of time, the annalists of the Holocaust, the philosopher who has married into neuroscience, the mathematician who can describe the beauty of numbers to the numbskull, the scholar of empires’ rise and fall, the adepts of the English civil war.
I don’t feel the urge to read the cosmologists, but I did gave up on Sara Paretsky’s latest mystery. It wasn’t bad. I just don’t have time.
I am not yet a “Senior Citizen,” but it is closer… Have you ever noticed that powerful old people are not called “seniors?” What a term for old age!