Are you ever Too Old?

When you’re twenty you’re invincible. Fit. Beautiful. Fast. When you’re twenty, you’re going to live forever.

Three decades later, you tiptoe around life, careful not to trip, mindful of stepping on landmines. Three decades later and you’re aware of every ache, every anomaly.

An anomaly sees me explaining my symptoms to a London cardio. ‘It feels’, I say, ‘as if a big moth is trapped somewhere between my throat and my sternum’. He straps me to a monitor which I must wear for a week, shows me the button I must  punch every time the moth stretches its wings to fly, every time it flutters.  I do as I am told and when I return I am wired to more lines and instructed to ride a bicycle, hard, up a virtual hill which grows steeper by the minute. I do. I pedal until I can pedal no more, until my breathing is so laboured I can barely speak.

‘As I suspected’, says the cardio when he pronounces his findings, ‘ectopic heartbeats’. And perfectly normal.   If I’d had them at 20, I’d have been living too hard, too fast, too eternally confident that I was going to live forever that I wouldn’t have noticed. Thirty years later and I move at a more sedate, cautious speed, slow enough that I feel the blips.

I cannot decide whether my growing sense of mortality is because I mind that the years are racing by – mind not for the lines which etch themselves into my face but for the slipping of time when there is still so much to do – or because I need to be here to shadow my children, to be there to catch the fallout when they need me to be there to catch it.

I toy with a new project, ‘am I too old’, I ask Ant, ‘to start something new?’

‘You’re never too old’, he says.

I must live, it seems, mindful that my physiology is a little frayed at the edges, but with the confidence I’m going to live until I’m 100.

There’s still time.

4 Responses to “Are you ever Too Old?”

  1. Rosie Says:

    Oh my God, I am so in the same place as you right now! I think our fraying physiology impacts our confidence which then rolls on to affect our belief in our abilities to start or try new things. I could never have imagined I would be like this when I was younger, or even just 10 years ago! Confidence & courage – I have to keep these in the forefront of my consciousness nowadays. Thanks for sharing & your honesty. It’s good to know I’m not the only one feeling this way.

  2. Ad dy Says:

    You echo my feeling entirely. At 66, my physiology is definitely changing onto a downhill slope. You are suddenly aware of muscles and things you didn’t know you had! You are suddenly aware of your own mortality. Sight is getting worse and hearing too. As I am an only child with no cousins or wider family, I worry that my daughter will be on her own if anything happened to me. So every twinge I get I panic.

  3. Penelope Says:

    Ah, age … tis a funny thing. I don’t ‘feel’ any older than about 22 most days. I still feel, interiorly, they way i did then, in terms of philosphy and outlook and personality … certainly i have matured emotionally and spiritually since then! But still, i feel quite youthful. And my teens tell me i don’t look or act or seem older than that to them. That said! I have just had a rather Significant Milestone birthday, and I do indeed notice the ‘signs of aging’, bless, in certain areas of my skin! Not to mention, a few white hairs. 🙂 Onward! I am going to live to 100, at least, too!

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