Jim Duffy endures the laughter of others at a ‘senior moment’ and then finds himself looking at second-hand sports cars.
There’s a great song by the band Keane that probably was their best song and one they will be remembered for. It’s called Everybody’s Changing. A great piano lead played in a powerful way to compliment the lead singer, who punches out a fantastic set of lyrics. It’s always somewhere lurking on my Spotify playlist.
But, this week it was even more poignant and meaningful for me as there were some major changes in my life. And as I listened again to the lyrics, I got scared. I became a little afraid of where I was in life and what I’m going to do as I grow older. And it is this new found fear of growing old that is causing me to go a little grey.
I certainly hit the 50th birthday milestone some time ago, so I am well over those feelings. But, unusually for me – I’m normally hopeful and positive about the future – dark clouds gathered over the last few days, precipitated by rather happy events. So what was the problem? Why the fear of growing old?
First up was health. Generally, I am healthy and, as some readers will know, I have just started a serious weight-training programme. I do a bit of aerobics and go for a couple of walks each week.
I have one of those fancy gizmos that measures blood pressure and as I sit here just now typing away, my reading is 132 over 70 with a resting heart beat of 67. From what I gather, this is spot on for a bloke my age. But, I have noticed my elbow is a bit sore and also my shoulder. Not to mention the stiffness around my hips when I complete high-volume, low-weight deadlifts. In short, these signals are telling me, I’m not the man I used to be. And it is making me feel old.
Add to this the fact that I’m not just as sprightly when I jump and don’t really slide out of bed in the morning, and my feelings of dread at getting older are compounded. In effect, that’s all that is wrong, so I should be pleased. But, unnervingly, the doubt swirling about my head is causing me to panic a bit. Yes, the fear of growing old has indeed set in and I cannot seem to shift it.
What about sex?
The other day, I was in a coffee shop in Edinburgh. Watching the world go by for 40 minutes enjoying an Americano. I looked around at folks nearby, older and younger than me. All chatting away and living life. All was well. I finished my caffeine and headed for the door.
But, it was at that moment that I had what others jokingly refer to as a “senior moment”. I pulled the door handle, but the door would not open. I tried to turn the handle, but again no joy. I stood back and examined the door looking for a buzzer or release catch. None that I could see. I then turned to see one of the two baristas laughing at me, which initially angered me. But, the other one came over and simply turned the handle a bit further. I felt a little embarrassed to say the least. In fact, I felt old.
And what about sex? Everything seems to be operating okay for the moment, although water-works-wise I do now have to get up during the night and pee. Not sure what this means, but I’m certainly not going to Google it to find out. One of my chums has just invested in the next generation of Viagra. Rather than take a pill, the new iteration is topical. In short, one applies it to oneself. What if I ever need this? What if I get erectile disfunction? It’s very common I guess. That’s why Pfizer has made billions... As you can see, I’m truly in the grip of this fear of getting old thing.
The need for speed
What about disputes? I still feel that I can handle myself physically if I ever need to. But, what happens as I get older and I can’t even defend myself as I’m weak, slow and two seconds behind the guy who has just landed a punch to my jaw? What happens if I get mugged?
I’m no Jason Bourne you understand, but I’ve played it out in my head. They’re getting nothing but aggro for now. However, as I get older, I might just have to give in, capitulate early and give them my watch.
The fear of growing old is already taking me to places that I never thought existed. I don’t like it.
And the most alarming thing of all, that lets me know I’m fearful of not being the man I was, happened this week when I found myself on a well-known UK second-hand car portal looking at second-hand sports cars. I browsed and flicked from Boxters to Z4s to MX5s. And I wanted them to be fast. Nought to 60 in five seconds was needed to fuel my depleted testosterone. This was no midlife crisis, this was serious, as I looked on with envy at what I could afford and how cool it would be to cut about in. Take years off me... I thought.
It’s not just everybody that’s changing around me, it’s me – big time. But, while everything is ok and I’m healthy and happy, there are pictures of old age flashing at the synapses in my brain. Something has sparked it. And the fear that comes with it feels palpable, albeit I know it’s nonsense. I’m going to shift it this weekend and put it behind me. I know I can do that.
But, I now know what it feels like to fear growing old and feel old at the same time. It has given me a deeper understanding of the next chapter.