#56 - On Aging

Sonia Brock

As my 70th Birthday approached I found myself having to come to terms with reality. I'm very good at fooling myself. Most people are.

I once fooled myself into thinking I was a body builder This was when I was younger. I went into the gym with the big guys. I lifted weights and I used the machines and so forth. The net effect, was stronger arms and legs. The other effect was that I went up a bra size, not in front, but from the muscle development in my back. I also gave myself a knee injury from which I'm still recovering, (Don't try to press more weight than you reasonably can and expect your bent knees to hold. Ooops!)

My other self delusion was that I could do Martial Arts. I claim that I got my "pink" belt. Actually, it was white, the lowest rank and I never got any higher. I can't remember dance moves or Tae Kwon Do moves or Tai Chi or anything like that. I don't have visual memory. I can't see pictures in my head. It's a knonw condition called Aphantasia, "a condition where one does not possess a functioning mind's eye and cannot voluntarily visualize imagery" Wikipedia If you can't do that, then you don't have the necessary map in your head, needed to do a chain of movements, and you're sunk!

To digress a bit, in computer war games you need to map. There are vast terrains and missions over them and so forth. I am heavily dependent on the online Wiki database that exists for my game, Guild Wars. For Missions I depend on PUGs (Player User Groups) which join together, however briefly, to do a Mission and then disperse. I carry my weight, I'm a good fighter. I just can't map. There is no functioning mind's eye.

Back to reality, it doesn't matter how much makeup I slather on, or whether I go to the hairdresser or whatever. I'm still seventy years plus. When I went to the hairdresser last we got to talking so she just kept fussing. When she was almost done she picked up the curling iron and, because I was a *sigh* Senior Citizen she made little tight curls all over my head. My hair is getting rather thin and is quite white. This was interesting, not my normal style but there you go. Then, I went to a reception for volunteers at jazz.fm and my friend, Danny Marks, hauled me up on stage where I did a rousing version of The Midnight Special. I rocked the house. The spotlight on those tight curls and sparse white hair made me look BALD in the resulting photographs. Oh well, I'm still 70 and counting, so that's par for the course.

Another thing that does not improve with age is short term memory.If I need to do a bunch of things such as the list below:

  • Buy a table
  • Send a Get Well card over the Internet
  • Add items to grocery list
  • Tell Don I can't make it to the computer Beer Bash this time
  • Make egg salad for sandwiches

I get stuck on 'buy a table over the Internet' to the detriment of all the other items listed. Then, another item will pop up at random, so I'll do that and worry vaguely that there was something else I needed to do. Bit by bit. most of the items surface, triggered by who knows what, until, with luck, I get most done. Sure, you say, write it down. Well, I do. By the time I've got to items 3 and 4 I've forgotten 5. It will surface later when I get hungry enough to remember I meant to make egg salad sandwiches. You can only deal with this fragility of short term memory philosophically. Remember what you can and let the rest go hang. Some charitable researcher said that this weakness comes from having too much information in our heads. Too bad you can't do head cleaning the way you can do house cleaning.

In my family we look about 10 or 15 years younger than we are, until one day the boom descends, and we suddenly look older. People don't realize that I am at my attained age of 70 plus. It's about time, however, that I started realizing it. I've started looking at older faces with a more discerning eye, looking for the beauty that is there, if you look for it. We are so predicated in this society on youth, on idolizing youth, but one day that's all gone and it ain't comin' back. I had to revise my self image, which was permanently set at about age 45. That was a reset from many years when it was permanently set as a 16 year old boy! I was a tomboy when I was a kid. Took me a while to grow out of that too.

So, I was permanently set at age 45. Well, I'm not 45 It was hard to give that up. I had a bout of depression and then I decided “There's not a darn thing I can do about it”. I had to accept something that I could not change and that wasn't easy. It was a real reality check.

Here I am and, apparently, I'm going strong. Things that used to interest me no longer interest me as much. I'm not as competitive. I take up some new things. I'm still growing plants and reading and knitting and sewing a bit. I go out every 6 weeks to my computer guys beer bash with other old geeks and demi-geeks like myself. We sit around and talk about what's wrong with Microsoft and why we may or may not like Linux and so forth. There are a few other social outings too. It's a good life that I have. I'm very lucky to be alive and reasonably well, even if I'm aging.

Wavy Line

© Sonia Brock 2007

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