My resistance to emerging social norms like gender fluidity makes me feel old. Attitudes have ingrained over the years and now seem stuck despite logic to the contrary. My kids have no such problem, their young brains adapt quickly. I increasingly feel on the wrong side of the saying: ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’
Just before Christmas (pre-lockdown) I tore my calf muscle playing tennis. My doubles partner heard it snap standing at the net. I have never torn a muscle, or broken a bone. This injury is another sign of age and physical degeneration … a stark and unwelcome reminder that I can’t take liberties with my body anymore. One of life’s cruelties is having to reconcile a mind that is still willing with a body that is less able.
But what is harder is the torture of hair loss and the sudden fret when your memory fails and you can’t recall a name. Or worse, when you forget the name of someone you were introduced to just minutes earlier.
There are upsides. I am more patient and lose my temper less. My basic DIY skills seem to be improving with age. I’ve also started to teach myself to play the drums again – I learn more slowly now, but I am better able to apply myself.
I value life and am less judgemental about all its weird forms, even though they still unsettle me. I’m willing to share my house with the odd mouse rather than trap it. I think: “live and let live!”
Given a choice, I would never swap age and experience for youth. But that doesn’t stop my grief at its loss, especially when it comes to accepting rather than just tolerating new and necessary social norms.