I used to think it was only older people who developed a fixation with numbers - in particular focusing on age, with this thinking now being developed to even further degrees as the latest "miracle" drug or cure shows promise. The "fix" becomes even more pronounced as we are encouraged, at any age, to read the numbers on the packet of anything you have picked up off the supermarket shelf to see if it has too much sugar or salt or not enough meat.
But this age thing, in particular, is a worry on a number of counts. I have been surprised recently at the number of people who have become seriously worried, depressed even, at the prospect of turning 40. I am not knocking it - you can get depressed by whatever number you like, but 40 is still young. You still have - given a fair wind, decent health, reasonable genes, no world war or a road accident - over half your life to go. I have to say, turning 40 certainly didn't phase me - neither did 50 nor 60 although I confess to getting somewhat skittish at 70. But I wasn't about to bury my head in my hands and give up, say it was the end, and please bring my armchair and some slippers while I waited for the grim reaper. Particularly in my case where my hobbies (non-existent in the conventional sense) have revolved solely around being a part of the world at large, as my active interest in sport slowly succumbed to muscle tears and strains, and ultimately gave way to disinterest because I wasn't involved anymore. But that said I do have some ideas about what to do with my future time :-)
I read last week about the amount of discomfort being expressed in some quarters because the pensionable age is rising in Britain to 66-67. The protesters were saying that they had worked hard all their lives and it wasn't fair that they now had to wait longer until they retired and were able to take a break. So let's try and put that into perspective. When pensions were first introduced by Bismarck towards the end of the 19th Century, when the majority of our forbears worked until they were carried out feet first in a box if they hadn't been caught up in a war, and life expectancy was in the low 50s, it was decided that people who made it to 60 and were still working should actually be entitled to be looked after by others and allowed to stop working. I understand that if we applied that principle to today, where longevity in the developed world is well into the 70s - and with the developments in medical science probably making it a good deal higher, then we should probably only allow people a pension when they reach 105!!
But look, it is what it is. The media are fully of advertisements extolling the latest means of living longer and longer. This involves it seems exercise in various degrees of vigour, with which I do agree, but depending on the particular week you are in, it extols the virtue of a particular product that has been described as a miracle towards living longer, but which is found two weeks later to be the complete opposite. And on that subject I was only reading today about a miracle cure for cancer that nearly killed the user!!
Really, we are blessed by being given an opportunity to live - and yes, I agree some are more blessed than others by virtue of where they are born and to whom. And if we can stop Messrs, Trump, Kim, ISIS and Al Qaeda from waging war on the world at large we stand a reasonable chance of living longer. And does the body become more frail? Yup. Do our brains become less active? - Well ... maybe. In some cases yes, but in the case of our bodies and our brains there are things we can do to assist. Miracle foods? Supplements you take daily? The latest exercise craze? For me - moderation is a word that comes to mind. In just about everything. You look at what gets served in restaurants these days in the developed world - portions that are too large. We are eating because it is there - not because we need it. Everything we do, should be done in moderation although I do confess to having trouble finding a suitable definition from time to time.
But stressed about age? Is there a great deal of point in doing so? Every day when you wake up you should expect to get through it and to make the most of it, at whatever age you are. Even if you have been dealt a rough set of cards - make the most of them. Be brave and look forward. Add the two numbers of your age together. If you are 65, think of yourself as being 11. Wasn't that a good time? Re-live it, and live for the day.