Being 60: 1
Now that I have reached 60 people ask me how I am feeling. It’s a common thing to ask people how they feel when they reach 18/21, 30, 40, 50 or 60 as you are supposed to feel different. Of course from one day to the next there is no big change but if I compare myself with how I remember being at 50 then 60 is a lot closer to the end of my life and that’s what can make being 60 a bit more challenging. Also I can’t crouch down, should I want to, my knees are a bit knackered. Other things too like reacting quickly to driving challenges, my reaction is now slower and I have to really be on the ball. I notice these things not because I am now 60 but in general all of that kind of thing begins to creep up on you. Oh and friends are now talking about their aches and pains. I am determined not to do that, it’s so damn depressing.
Sometimes I think that I am lucky because as a 60 year old I will still get the best of this life, this planet we live on, and pass on to another life before this one finally peters out. God knows what future generations have in store for them. Talking of which, I got a fabulous birthday present from my dear friends A and B today through the mail via Amazon, a marvellous book called Genesis, a photographic homage to our planet in its natural state, by Sebastiao Salgado. It is truly stunning and is the result of years of travelling and taking photographs of parts of the world that are, still, untouched by modern life. They are where the way of life is largely unchanged. Salgado says “I wanted to examine how humanity and nature have long coexisted in what we now call ecological balance”. So his work, shown in this extraordinary book, is “the record of my journey, a visual ode to the majesty and fragility of Earth. But it is also a warning, I hope, of all that we risk losing”. I have yet to see every marvellous photograph and to read the texts but I know that this book is a celebration of life as we know it (or knew it) as still exists in certain parts of the world. It is a document of witness; the fact is our Earth is truly extraordinary but for how much longer, we don’t know. The IPCC yesterday announced that it is now 95% sure that humans are the major cause of global warming and climate change, so now no one can deny the facts. Except of course those who work at Fox news and others who live in a permanent state of denial, just because.
Returning to the theme of 60, I have decided to write 60 notes on the subject of being 60. I have no idea how it will turn out but this is the first. I remember when my parents reached 60 they retired, and that’s what we expected too. However, since we have proved to be so resilient and healthy we are now expected to work until 64 or 65 or even more before we can get our hands on our pensions. My mother, particularly and more so than my father, had 20 good years from 60 onwards, she had a good time, living well, gardening, being involved in music, reading without limit, travelling to see my brothers in York and Scotland to me in Mexico, to Spain and Italy with friends to see more friends, she had a good time. She was healthy, she enjoyed life and made as much of it as she could and that’s what I want to do. However, I cannot give up working until I sell my house, as I just can’t afford to and so I must persevere. I realise that I am lucky to have a decent job.
Meanwhile, here in Mexico there are sort of pensions, there is something called an AFORE, which is a kind of pension fund that was introduced in this country only a few years ago, this century. As a result, I have some money there but it will give me about sixpence a month if I should retire now. As for my UK pension there will be something there, not much, but something is better than nothing. Hence, my needing to downsize sooner rather than later. However, it ain’t so easy since most of the houses in Cuernavaca seem to be up for sale at the moment…
Anyway, how do I feel? Great, actually, especially as the sun has been shining today again and I even went and had a siesta lying beside the pool, feeling the sun on my face, not strong or burning, just really pleasant. A simple pleasure in life, what more do I need?