Getting older - what young people don't know

When you are younger you hear a lot of things from older people about getting old. Now before I really start I'm not going to go off on one about how young people know nothing. For one thing it's not true. They know a lot more about their world and culture than anyone my age and they shouldn't be worrying about a lot of what older people might lecture them on anyway.

I know it's tempting to criticise the young; say their music is rubbish for instance. I heard enough of that back in the 80s when I was a teenager even though what I was listening to was mainly from 1967-1974 in date. The people saying it to me often didn't check my tastes before launching their diatribe.

What I find odd is that getting older sneaks up on you. It's insidious and you don't realise it's happening. And I'm not just on about aches and pains. Although on that topic ask any 50 year oldwho played rugby as a kid how their knees feel at 3:30am when their body wakes them up for the inevitable middle of the night pee. Yes young people, this awaits you.

Aches aside there are some subtle changes about aging I found strange. My tastes have developed for one and my attitude towards them softened. When I was a teenager there were certain types of music or song I felt I couldn't admit to liking as they were outside my zone. Pass 40 and you realise there's not enough life left to enter yourself pleasures of any kind.

The development part is more subtle. I like heavy metal. I like progressive rock. I like psychedelia. I like jazz-rock, fusion, Krautrock, golf, and I could go on. I still do. But I find that the flavour of each of these that I play more than others now has shifted. And much to the annoyance of my mother, if she was still alive, it's not shifted towards the more gentle and melodic. In many cases I go for the more complex rhythms and arrangements than I used to.

Reading too has changed. I was a short story junkie. I loved the old fiction magazines like Amazing Fantasy, Astounding/Analog and Interzone. If I read fiction now it's novellas and longer. You notice the if there. Another shift - I read mostly non-fiction these days with a particular liking for history of science.

Back to the body; I've already mentioned the fact that you can kiss goodbye uninterrupted nights of sleep. But there are other changes. I used to be a caffeine addict. I drank lots of it. A couple of years ago my body rebelled. These days it's mainly water although I do let myself have some caffeine now just nowhere near earlier levels.

Food too is affected. Like all kids I ate chocolate whenever I could. Now I actually dislike the taste. The kid version of me hated cabbage and mustard; the adult is a fan.

And your mind changes too . I remember in great detail the novels I read as a teenager. I can list characters, quote bits of dialogue and recite the plot in detail of boons like Dune first read three decades ago. Ask me about the book I read over Christmas, less than two months ago. And it's a different story. I know I enjoyed the book but don't ask me to write a synopsis.

And then there's attitudes. They change,  I touched on this with regards allowing yourself to like any music but it goes deeper. The things you care about change. Now some of this is inevitable. After all you can't care about your house and the mortgage if you don't have them yet.

But I found I started to care more about the long term the less of it I had left. My plans and thoughts now are in months and years, not days and weeks. A preferred Saturday night is watching films or TV shows with the family not going out. And one of the best parts of a holiday is that first night'so sleep back in your own bed. The only problem with that is you then have to go back to work - even if you like your job that first drive back in after being off is not a pleasurable experience.

My in laws often say I'd miss working if I didn't have to. They tell me I'd get bored. I'd like to think I would find ways to occupy my time - writing novels for instance. I know I wouldn't mind giving it a try.

I could go on. There are a hundred ways and more life has changed between my teens and my fifth decade that no one warned me of but there's no point. Because most of what I've noticed will be different for you. And the point of this wasn't to lecture anyway. Teenagers should be reckless, take risks and not worry about consequences, and generally gave a good time. They still bounce within reason.

This is just observation. I'm jealous of the youthfulness of the young. I miss mine. My lifegoals now revolve around boring things like paying off the mortgage as soon as possible. And being a mad music fan I miss the time of exploration that was my teens. I heard so much for the first time back then. I still love listening to music and have music on far more often that the TV but I've heard it all before. It's been years since the last time I founc new to me artist with s back catalogue I could devour.

Now I'm not going to leave you on a sour note. That would be fair. There's a lot about life I enjoy. And I've learned to enjoy things whenever I can. Take pleasure where you find it and all that. Trust me it can work.

Getting older isn't bad. For one thing it's better than the alternative. And there are still lots of new experiences to be had - they just won't involve parachutes and abseiling any more- not that they ever did for me.


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