The trials and tribulations of a 66-year-old 85



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I am on holiday, sitting looking at the sea which today is a deep, dark blue and is shining and calm. People are strolling along the beach. Honestly, the world looks perfect. I have nothing in particular that I ‘should’ be doing and, in my head, I am loving the lack of demands on my time. But some part of me feels restless still.

This is very common for me. The longing to do absolutely nothing conflicting with that driven part of me that wants to be active, useful, involved and busy. It’s a real internal battle. There’s quite a strong fear inside me of an elderly, lazy overweight blob with stiff knees and hips and nothing useful to do, who is just waiting for the chance to appear and take over my life.

I could read, write, watch DVDs, have more coffee – but oh, I surely ‘should’ move, walk, get fresh air. I could take a nap as I am so tired –  but oh, I may not sleep properly tonight if I do. I could have a little snack to cheer me up – but I’m trying to lose weight, aren’t I?

Even in my activities, there is a tug-of-war between putting in a lot of effort, or just getting by with the least time and effort. I could really ‘work it’ when I exercise – or perhaps I should take it easier and not risk sore muscles? My bridge playing is mediocre – I could study and practise – but, why bother? It’s just a game. I could write more regularly and with more direction. I need to put a book together, enter a competition, write an article for Starts at Sixty, but hey, writing is just for pleasure isn’t it? Does it matter when or what I write? I want to read more widely, more classic literature, books about writing, learn new things – but I just am so enjoying this novel at the moment. And so it goes…I think you may get my drift. I want to play the piano more, but never ‘find’ the time.

And now I find the battle is also coming into my dealings with people. I have always liked socialising, chatting being involved. But now, I find myself often choosing none of these things and preferring to spend time on my own. As I constantly strive to be more loving, more tolerant, more compassionate and patient in my Third Age – as these are important values to me – I find myself feeling ever LESS tolerant of the whims and opinions of others I seem to actively like, and enjoy fewer and fewer people. Even a little social contact drains me of energy.

What on earth is going on here? Aren’t I supposed to become MORE certain with age – not less? Aren’t I supposed to be in the stage of equanimity and balance? A year or so ago, I ran a course for the U3 A called ‘Ageing Gratefully’. We discussed many of the above issues and we did some relaxation and affirmations too. It did seem that people pass through the stages of unrest – on to acceptance perhaps when a bit older.

I want to age with gratitude and with some grace. I would like to be a positive role model and a teacher to those younger than I. I want peace of mind and contentment. At the same time, I want to age loudly, riotously and disgracefully – never invisible, never unnoticed! Can I have it all? Please?

So, I am wondering – dear SAS readers, what your own experiences and thoughts might be? Do you share some of my struggles, or do I need to face the fact that I am a little strange and just deal with it? Is it a phase I am passing through, or is it a personality flaw that won’t go away?

Val McCrae

Val would describe herself as a "budding" writer, constantly working on her memoir. Has been on several writing courses ( the last one in Paris!) and imagines one day having a book published! Don't we all? Isn't it true that each of us has a book inside us! She says that mostly, writing is a pleasure, it is therapy, it is cathartic, it is an art, a skill, it is more than a hobby and more a way of life. Writing down the issues that create passion is life affirming. Age is irrelevant when writing!

  1. Great story and she is spot on.

    1 REPLY
    • Oh, how I relate to this story. Great work. Thanks for sharing. I am feeling so much better now that I have read everyone else’s comments. I think I can now rest easy and sit back and read a book or online (like this), without the guilt of ” I should get up and ‘do’ something”. Breaking the programming of the mind is rather enlightening. Thanks for putting words into action.

  2. AI’m the same age as Val and I can relate to what she is saying. A lot of changes have happened in my life since 2012 and that could be part of the changing processes. The first was the death of my Dad in March 2012, my mother going into care, the selling of their home and disposing of the contents and then retiring completely. We may find that this is the beginning of a new stage of our lives and that there may be a complete turnaround.

  3. Hi Val
    If I didn’t know better I would have thought that I was writing that article about me. I am 67 have traveled to Europe, three quarters of this fine land Australia, did all the usual things thru life married a terrific man raised 3 adult children studied read every self help book and now retired, you described me to a tee, I now have the freedom to do what I want when I want and love every minute of it, but yes there is a turmoil at times but I believe that’s my generation well at least its me hahah. I have always believed there is more to see more to do so lets just enjoy this time. Look forward to your next article cheers Judith.

  4. I often feel the same way. There are so many “projects” that I want to get finished or started and sometimes feel too overwhelmed to even begin. I still have thousands of photos to scan onto the computer from when we sold up five years ago and began life as nomads in our van traveling around. I can only do this when we are back staying on our sons’s property as this is where the boxes of photos are. I have cross stitch projects started or waiting to be started. At the moment I am in the process of writing my life story at the suggestion of my daughter and I am incorporating that into the four “Grandparents Remember” books that I have had waiting for ages. Then there is all my painting gear gathering dust…….

  5. Spot on Sue. I think we all feel like that a lot of the time. I have since being out of work and with Chronic Bronchitis, I sometimes struggle to find the reason in the effort. You wrote this though, so that was a great effort. 🙂

  6. Enjoyed reading this article.I feel exactly how you do & struggle with exactly the same feelings. I have a book inside me & may be I will get it written, it would be fact, but most would feel it was fiction.My life had been busy & never a dull moment. My opinion is we now feel we have worked hard with people contact over load every day, so we enjoy our own company now & that’s ok.

    1 REPLY
    • I LERV……. being in my own company. Dont have all the noise & can actually sit & contemplate what I want to do. My partner is still working & can'[t understand why I don

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