I was seventy last month. Quite a milestone in one’s life, so I have been analysing myself, to see how I have altered over this long, fascinating journey. Physically I have aged, although not too badly. I look okay, and lead a full, busy life. My mobility is not so good, thanks to arthritis, but I now have sedentary occupation, so it is not much of a problem. I am still bi-polar, still quite agoraphobic, but I have learned to live with these monsters and, thanks to modern medications, I am no longer ruled by them. What concerns me much more is how my personality has, and is becoming altered over the years.
I intend to grow old disgracefully having come to realise the futility of worrying about things that, to quote a favorite film, “Don’t amount to a hill of beans”. As a consequence, when I am faced with friends who are chewing on a bone that should have been left long ago, I lose my patience. I include unsolved problems in this list. Having set myself the task of doing not moaning, (not an easy path, but one I am finding rewarding so far) I am trying to educate my friends to do likewise. In the process I am becoming a crotchety old bag, and I am ashamed to say that I am actually rather enjoying it. Of course, my memory is also failing, so I don’t know if I have always been so harsh and unforgiving. I remember myself as a warm, approachable and affable person. I am probably deluding myself. It is just that over the past year I have had more rows and arguments than in the rest of my life put together. That in itself doesn’t alarm me. It is the narrowing of the threshold before I explode that I find worrying. (And I’m sure it often surprises the poor unfortunate at the sharp end of my tongue.) Age has brought with it a realisation that time is finite. Don’t get me wrong, death does not worry me. I have no fear of an absence of life, and no desire to live past my sell by date, and certainly not forever. Wasting this precious time is my fear. I no longer have the time to pussyfoot around. If someone does something I don’t like, I feel obliged to say so – often far too forcefully, otherwise I find myself constantly rewinding and reliving the issue.
I have always talked too much, but I like to think I have also listened a great deal. Am I losing the ability to listen so attentively, or is my sense of tolerance becoming finer tuned? I really don’t want to spend time on the same old problems, the same old moans, the same old tales of woe, especially, even if they’re mine. Whereas in the past, no matter how many times a problem has been aired, I would have tried to sympathise with my friends, and explored all possible solutions. I can’t be bothered now. Once, or twice, maybe three times, is enough. I literally haven’t got the time to give the same old rubbish advice and to churn out the same old platitudes. I want to, and often do, scream, “For God’s sake get a grip. Do something about it, but stop regurgitating the same old same old.” If that makes me a cow, or if I have said something similar to you, I apologise.
However, I think this is me. It is unlikely that I will be reverting to a more patient creature. In all likelihood I will get worse. I don’t intent to change. I don’t think I can, nor do I want to. Don’t get me wrong, there are already so many flaws in my character, faults that I willing own up to, and I would dearly love to eradicate. This new straight talking, no suffering of fools gladly attitude is, however, not one.
How much time have I saved as yet through my bluntness? None. But I live in hope. I refuse to dwell on the same old issues. I am having a mental clear out and suggest you do the same. I may end up as a miserable, lonely old woman. Who knows. But, if you don’t want this to happen to me, take heed. Bring me new problems. Tell me fresh horrors. I am all ears. Only please, if you have been plagued by the same dilemma for more than a decade, treat it like old clothes. Bin it.