On Turning ?0!
It can be a risky thing coming clean about your age. My Dad never tells anyone. He says people pigeonhole you when know how old you are and treat you accordingly. It’s age prejudice. ‘You can’t do that, you’re too old!’ He never really approved of birthdays. So there’s a question mark in my number of years. You have to guess!
In some ways, on the inside, I still feel forty or fifty. But the truth is I do experience some of the afflictions of age – a dodgy knee, an enlarged prostate, twinges in the lower back, loss of teeth, cataracts on the eyes… There’s no denying it, the years take their toll. But, on the other hand, if you keep active, have loving friends and something meaningful to do you can stay younger longer. Dad walks a couple of miles most days, exercises in the morning and before bed, has a frugal diet. He can still out-stride the rest of us. And he’s still writing plays. ‘It’s what keeps me alive,’ he says. He’s just joined the Cheltenham Theatre Writers’ Group. He’s an inspiration to all who know him.
So I have a ‘forever young’ mentality whilst at the same time being fully aware of my mortal body’s wear and tear. But what’s more significant is my changing relationship to time. I don’t have so much of it left now, so it becomes urgent for me to do the things I still really want to do. A lot of it is about integration, completion and harvesting fruit. So there’s a memoir to finish, other books to write and a storytelling show to take on the road. Plus it’s finally time to renovate and eco-friend my house, making it ready for a more family way of living. As always there are improvements to make at Cae Mabon, but new levels of collaboration with local and regional communities are also being called for.
Like so many I feel the need to step up to the massive evolutionary task of dealing with the global challenges of unstable climate, ecological flattening, destructive consumption, war and migration. How do we leap to the next level, discover the human relationships and consciousness that will help us to become new types of beings. Some have even called it ‘speciation’. There are many paths towards this distant goal but I’m coming to feel that Magic, in the sense of ‘the use of special powers to make things happen that would usually be impossible’, has an important part to play. Indeed it may be essential.
That’s a ridiculously ambitious to-do list but perhaps, like my Dad, it’ll keep me alive! I certainly feel excited by the sense of fulfilment, integration, coming together, linking up, taking a stand, stepping up… In the words of the greatest song you’ve never heard of: ‘Well I don’t know where I’m going but I know when I get there it’ll be alright.’ Maybe further down the line it’ll be time to put my feet up. But it’s not (dark) yet.
That reminds me of something else calling for my attention at this age-turning time. What happens to all this after I’m gone? In the business world it’s called ‘succession management’. It’s not obvious and rather complicated here at Cae Mabon. So I’m biding my time for the moment until a clear and right way forward presents itself. It’s an act of faith I suppose. Naïve perhaps but it’s an attitude that’s served me well enough at Cae Mabon up till now.
Generally it feels to me like this coming decade is a ‘now or never’ time. Slippers have their place but right now I need running shoes!