I’m slowing down. I wish I wasn’t, but I am. My energy level isn’t the same as it was when I was 30, or even 40. My body certainly isn’t the same either. I can’t drink caffeinated coffee after 6 and still fall asleep at 11:00. Writing until midnight and rising early are no longer possible and all-nighters are out of the question. Dairy and wheat are a problem. My hair has thinned and my metabolism is slower. My weight isn’t all that much different, but the distribution of flesh doesn’t look at all the same. I forget more than I used to.
According to a graphic illustration in the Monday Health section of the LA Times, my muscle mass has deteriorated to less than one-fourth of what it was when I was 20. My hair salon visits are shorter now because I’ve given up hair color. My skin is my own, no stretching or tucking, just daily doses of sunblock. (I don’t need more freckles.) For some inexplicable reason, my mirror reflects what I want to see, but the photos don’t lie. Like Nora Ephron, I hate my neck.
The truth is, none of the above depresses me all that much. I’m on the opposite end of the perfectionist scale, a “good enough” kind of person. Age happens to everyone. The alternative is an attractive corpse and I certainly don’t want to be that. What troubles me is that there is less time ahead than there is behind. As far as I’m concerned it happened too soon. In Ireland, I’m past the age of qualifying for a 30 year mortgage because, according to actuary tables, I won’t live to pay it off. In 10 years I’ll be too old to rent a car in Europe. It probably doesn’t matter because I won't be going anyway. Air travel has become increasingly painful, cramped seats, crying babies, inadequate facilities, delayed flights, all recipes for those terrifying blood clots to which older people are susceptible. The idea that I’m winding down and should start thinking about downsizing, looking into retirement communities, houses without stairs, Medigap plans and AARP membership is more than disconcerting. It’s terrifying. I’m a baby boomer, for heaven’s sake. Not that long ago there were more of us than anyone. The world was ours. Our potential was enormous.
I still love to read, sleep late and solve the world’s problems over cappuccino with a good friend. My dislikes, unfortunately, haven’t changed all that much either. But the world is moving on and my time is limited. It isn’t possible to see and do everything that appeals to me. I’m lazier than I was so I should probably prioritize. I need a bucket list, one that merits deep thought…and little effort. Happy New Year, everyone.