There were two grannies pushing a couple of buggies on the pavement as my friend and I cycled past, “that’ll be us in ten years” she said. My first thought was that I am only just used to the idea of having no children living at home (with two out of three gone, it is a slow process), I haven’t even thought about becoming a grandparent. Besides, my children aren’t old enough before I corrected myself; in a decade my eldest daughter will be 31 years old and the clock will be ticking on her chances of becoming a mother (if that is what she wants). Oh dear, maybe my friend wasn’t so far off.
This got me thinking about ageing. I have often wondered what the driver is for research about ageing and concluded that is was about reducing ill health (I prefer not to believe in keeping people looking “beautiful”). I guess at a simple level ageing is about how our cells replicate and the “mistakes” that creep into the process. I am not sure how this applies to fertility but it seems to me that if women could extended their general health and fertility another five years or so, having kids would not be such a driver to settle down with a partner. Experiencing life more and learning about oneself and others would end up with better relationships I would hope. What do I know though? I assume not everybody wants kids anyway.
This reminds me of Hugh Jackman, the ageing thing rather than fertility and having kids. Jackman plays the superhero Wolverine in the X-Men movies whose super power is to continuously repair himself; getting shot in the forehead is not a problem for Wolverine. In the last movie I saw, another character feels the need to point out that Wolverine never ages (I guess it explains why Wolverine looks the same in the past and the future). This amused me because I had just watched Jackson in a staged production of the musical Oklahoma where he played the lead character called Curly. In the musical Jackson is much younger with significant less muscle bulk so his mutant genes obviously haven’t kicked in at that point.
Would I want to live without ageing? I guess it would be tempting. I could do without all the aches and pains of getting older, together with the knowledge that things are only going to get worse, not ageing would certainly physically could make living life more fun. There is however no comment on what prolonging life would have on our mental health. It is a science fiction cliché that humans are special because we burn so bright but live such a short life, we can hold onto the “illusion” that love can live forever. It’s a rather condescending attitude and I don’t think many people are aware of their fragility when they are young, and I don’t think many people buy the fairy tale love story either.
I think I would choose another superpower myself. I would want to understand feelings. I would want to know my own feelings and I would like to be empathically understand others. Communication can flow much better when we understand our own and others feelings. I think the world would be a better place if we could remove the complexities and semantics of language and just concentrate on sorting ourselves out from an emotional basis.
Sounds good but the fact is that after my bike ride, I am content lying down on the sofa under a couple of blankets and a dog trying to keep warm. I let me mind float free, images appear and go, sometimes I wonder what they mean and what the connecting is between this and the previous image. For instance I imagined three women sitting on a dry stone wall, one holding a westie in her arms, another holding a white lily in one hand whilst wrapping something up in a rug, and the third one is more of a shadow because I can’t focus on her. Things that are hovering “needing” to be done come and go too, booking more plane tickets, setting up the new amplifier, investigating my wife’s computer, leaflets for work, holiday cover for the dog. I let these demands float off too.
I feel nothing emotional most of the time. I enjoy the warmth of the dog lying on my legs and appreciate the warmth that is flowing from this spot down to my cold feet; my hands are warm again. I listen to the cars going past on the road. An image of a man shouting, screaming appears but I don’t detect the anger or fear that is going on for him. Is this me reacting to the demands mounting up? Instead blankness.
If anything, I would say I feel content lying there. Content to just be. Content to not be interacting.
I am not sure I would call it living though. I am not sure anybody else would understand.