In a sense, my boot camp for old age really began last year. Last year I learned new things about myself as a result of preparing a speech for the DARE 2014 conference in London. This was a special event from me as for once, two of my worlds converged.
The slogan of DARE 2014 was "People skills for digital workers," and apparently I was the one who coined it. The audience works at programming, web design, content management, systems design, digital strategy and so forth. Likewise, my own daily work is in the digital sphere, where my age is totally irrelevant. At the same time, I was becoming fascinated by all the illogical, contradictory, bizarre attitudes to aging that surrounded me.
What interested a younger audience about aging
I found to my surprise that younger digital workers were also concerned about the process of growing older. Many told me that they found it helpful just to see their current worries in a long term perspective. I was living proof that life is long and careers have many surprising twists and turns and that 74, in my experience, was proving to be a sweet spot.
The folk at DARE know exactly what their audience wants and provide strong guidelines for the content and form of presentations. So the process of preparing our talks was rigorous, involving a set structure and several rehearsals with other speakers. This was heaps of fun, as well as a mighty hard challenge. I found that writing about my life story brought me some surprising new insights. (Funny, that.)
What I learned when I spoke about aging
- Your life story, past and future, is fluid. It is not cast in concrete.
- Your parents embed certain mantras in your head. If they're good, you can refer to them forever. (In our family David said, "Be kind" and Celia said, "Go on, have an adventure!" Perfect.)
- We already know how to grow old happily, thanks to science, experience, and common sense. It's a good idea to start being happy right this minute, regardless of circumstances and regardless of your age.
You can watch my 25-minute speech without a Tardis
Image from my talk shows the way a body (mine) ages over the decades.