Here I am with just 90 minutes to think about and write about the end of my boot camp for the bonus years. (Which has been, you may recall, a personal audit and where necessary an upgrade of 12 habits known to influence one's bodily health, brain health and happiness in old age.)
4.30 PM is an unnecessary self-imposed deadline. At that point, another appointment kicks in, then I must have dinner and go to choir, and then sleep, and then it's my birthday, and who wants to be writing a Final Blog Post on their birthday?
I keep forgetting the birthday: turning 76 seems hardly worth noticing. And maybe this is the single clearest signal that my boot camp has been worthwhile.
On and off for the last year I have been pondering age, looking at my own life, analysing potential danger points, clarifying my larger goals and making adjustments accordingly. (What you read on this blog is not a tenth of it!) Overall I feel more aware, more vulnerable, more joyful in the morning ... and in the evening, secretly proud of my efforts.
Stop, drop and cover — here come the bullet points
- I'm ticking over well for the most part, so much so that my inner Smugilla needs a good kick in the pants every second day. I'm particularly relieved to have, for now, a good exercise routine.
- My greatest failure goes back decades. For a lifetime, financial matters have worked out, more or less. Last year's scrutiny of my financial situation has revealed that Ms Innocent Optimist, while very sweet, still needs to do her sums.
- In some areas of life a gentle tweak now and then is enough.
- I have not come to terms with old age and death. But I am going to trust the process, enjoy my life as it is, expect to be well and happy for a very long time indeed, know the outcome (decline and death), and give way gracefully when the time comes.
- I'm settling into my own point of view. I'm equally repelled by an airy fairy sanctification of old people and a gloomy doomy passive negativity. Somewhere along the spectrum lies grace. I hope to find that sweet spot.
Coping with change
Changes are inevitable at any stage of life, especially with a nearly-old body. The world changes too. Some things we need to say goodbye to, and there may be sadness, a little or a lot. Just today, I heard that my beloved learn-to-be-lazy-after-a-Tuesday-swim cafe is for sale. No more random philosophising with friends there, no more full-body-non-bitter flat whites, no more daft 50s decor, no more... see?
We all know that loss and therefore change is often necessary and OK. If we look it in the eye and control what we can, change can be refreshing. In later life, this cliche becomes an urgent message. Tomorrow: a timely family funeral for someone who was good and ready to die.
Another example: for years I've loved sponsoring a couple of schools for the Books in Homes scheme. As my disposable income is bound to shrink, I've started a small volunteer job, donating time instead. That'll be interesting. And useful. Changes also loom in several other aspects of my life, and I hope to cope.
Bye bye boot camp for the bonus years
My inner Sergeant Major declares the boot camp formally over and done with at midnight, 23 February 2016 (New Zealand time).
A certificate states that I have graduated with distinction, i.e. with a 76% pass.
That'll do. I'm glad I did it and I'm glad it's over. Self analysis is all very well, but time's up, lady.
On the other hand, I'm still interested in the way other people age. One day I'll start collecting anecdotes and write a series of short stories that show the infinite variety of people in their 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond, and their perceptions of age.
And bye to my tiny band of readers! I'll miss you! On the other hand...
"20 cheers for the bonus years" is my casual blog. You might like to follow that one, now that the boot camp is over.
PS Look at that! I've finished, and I've still got time to find an illustration. I hope.
Image from Greensboro College for Women 1917 Yearbook. Internet Archive Book Images.