Age old story

Sunday 12th June 2011

USED to be. Intriguing phrase, that. A temporal counterpoint to ‘wannabe’. There should be a warning sign: Danger of Falling into Mindsets. Going to do my damnedest to avoid such snares. Gonna get me a bow’n’arrow. Notch and point.

I’ve been busy mulling, dear reader, and it’s not a pretty sight.

Forget milestones. Sixty is cliff and cocoon. Ascend, clap on back, descend into duvet. Bus pass and free eye-test. Cabin on the left, four doors down. Need anything, just ask one of the porters.

There have been too many used-to-be’s these past few weeks. In the writing, the head and the gait. It’s as if I’ve allowed myself to join some gentlemen’s club, where members prate and berate from sedentary upholstery, led by Capt. Complacency and Mr Moan whom we re-elect as secretary and treasurer at every AGM.

You’re wrong, Marcus: kids not offering seats on buses to pensioners is neither indicative of a decline in moral standards, nor a sudden fad. Public transport and health care should be free for everyone, across the globe. I’ve always believed that. Cuts to services only reinforce my commitment to making the world a better place for all. Age has got bugger all to do with it.

When, in my thirties, I decided to leave teaching, a senior colleague urged me to reconsider. He presented a good case, even tried a little emotional stuff. Once he realised no arguments would dissuade me, he changed tack.

“I give in, Marcus. But one word of advice. Within five minutes, they’ll have forgotten you. Don’t expect to be a legend.”

We are only specks. Yeah, fine to think we’ve made a bit of difference in a few people’s lives, but the nowness of now is what matters, not all our yesterdays. And they certainly shouldn’t hand out rewards just for entering a seventh decade. How disrespectful is that?

A student neuroscientist drives me home after an event in Cheltenham. She tells me about Phineas Gage. We discuss neural pathways.

I change my mind. No more used-to-be’s. I’m about to enter my prime.

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