It’s my birthday! I’m 84 today (an octagenariaquad, as the Americans might put it, with their love of making words longer and more impressive than they need be, we say anaesthetist, they say anaestheologist). It’s the very first time I’ve been this old, and I must confess, I am still quite surprised to find that I have arrived here at all.
If you’d asked me 50 years ago at what age I thought I might die, I guess I might have said, “Oh, 70, 75 years, I suppose”, or something along those lines, and yet here I am, still as hale and hearty as possible for someone who is 84, and still enjoying life to the full. Which all goes to prove, or at least suggest, that we are indeed living longer now than we did a generation ago, a progression that has been going on for centuries I suppose, and may go on for many years to come.
The kids being born today may very well look forward to a 110 to a 120 years when they get old, why even now 100 years of age is becoming quite common, isn’t it… It’s like millionaires, when I was a kid, 80 years ago, to be a millionaire put you in a bracket with perhaps a dozen other people in the whole country, whereas now pretty well anyone who is reasonably successful seems to be one, and you don’t even have to work for it in some cases, a million dollar top prize is by no means unusual in some of the quiz shows and lotteries of today!
To get back to my subject, I suppose I am quite lucky to have, at my age, a good head of hair, handsome features, reasonable health and a still functioning brain… Okay, the bit about being handsome was just slipped in to boost my own ego, you can ignore that. Seriously, we are all very lucky to be living through the age when for the first time in history the most monstrous, magical and wonderful progress has been made in virtually all phases of our lives. Think of the progress in fighting cancer and other once serious diseases, the things surgeons can now do with ‘keyhole’ surgery, resulting in the least possible shock to the human body and all using anaesthetics to remove pain during operations; the way computers, smartphones and numerous other gadgets help us; the comparative safety of modern cars; and the overall quality of the food and water we consume. Think too, it was only about a hundred years ago that we started discovering the possibilities presented by electricity, but now, virtually everything relies on electricity to function at all. The meat-safe, with a damp towel thrown over it is now replaced by the modern refridgerator; the early telegraph, using Morse code has long been replaced by the telephone, (and look what that I little beauty can do for you today!); and the horse-and-cart — think how long it must have taken to get from Melbourne to Sydney before the car!
I must confess that, sitting here on my verandah, a celebratory glass of good Australian Shiraz in my hand, and the warm sun on my face, I have come to the conclusion that I am a very lucky guy to have been born into this period of history, with its ever increasing speed of progress and development. If we humans are very careful, we have so much to look forward to, both here on earth and even into interplanetary space, where our adventurers will no doubt be going next. Though as we learn more, I think we also begin to realise that we are, in fact, a fairly unimportant part of the great universe wrapped so lovingly around us — let’s hope we, or out descendants, are able to make the most of it.
My only concern now is that we appear to be governed by fools (throughout the world, not just Australia, look at Brexit as an example). People who seem to be leading us down some rather unsavory paths into the future, but I don’t want to get involved in politics in this little piece, after all as I said at the beginning I am still very surprised I got here at all, so I’ll just sit back and think about everything, quietly and peacefully!