It's a marker. After years of saying, "forty is the new thirty", and then "fifty is the new thirty", followed by "sixty is the new forty", one can no longer put it off any longer - the realisation that one is actually old. It's the physical signs that one can't ignore - the knees which hurt, the not being able to read anything at all without a pair of reading glasses, the having to ask people to repeat what they just said.
However, there are many upsides. After the introversion, the looking back at history and the prevailing gloom of my thinking since June 24th, I have turned a corner. I am now going to focus on the positive.
One hundred good things about growing old - I'm starting today with seasonal aspects.
- Turning the heating up to 21.5 degrees no longer seems like an indulgence, but a necessity.
- I don't feel guilty about writing very little (or nothing) in Christmas cards to people I seldom see.
- I don't feel guilty about letting people "slip off the list" of Christmas cards if we haven't met for more than 30 years.
- I don't feel aggrieved if a sick child (now aged 29) keeps me occupied for a week. Instead I feel grateful that she's under my roof and control, not out walking their dog or going to "gigs" whilst suffering from flu.
- I don't feel sad and heartbroken when said child leaves my premises after staying a week. Instead I feel grateful to have my own time and sofa and footstool back.
- I take it as a badge of honour, instead of an insult, when said child tells me that the old "weird" couple on Gogglebox are the ones her dad and I have most in common with.
- It's easy to walk straight past the dresses, handbags and shoes in John Lewis without a second glance.
- Instead of drinking up that glass of wine, and then having another, the first thing I do is mentally step back, think, "What will I feel like in ten minutes' time, and what might I say which will cause terrible upset?" and refuse.
- Instead of worrying about what people will think of me if I decline an invitation I really dread, I simply apologise in simple terms and move on.
- On meeting people I've known for years while out doing Christmas shopping, I shut up after "How are you?" instead of going on to ask about everything they've done in the twenty or so years since I last spoke to them.