Growing young disgracefully

“But I was so much older, then – I’m younger than that now.”Bob Dylan

Sometime in the last year, I discovered the secret of not getting old.

The secret is… don’t get old!

It’s no harder or simpler than that. Your body and mind are self-renewing tools. Down the decades they may need some patching up, but plot medical advances on a curve and life expectancy seems to be increasing about ten years every decade; already, the old have stopped dying. (The USA and Japan’s fastest growing demographic: octogenerians.) The dream of immortality is within our grasp. But technology is immaterial: what matters to staying young is attitude. And at some point since January, I got myself a new one.

It wasn’t forging a new identity; it was getting rid of an old one. Working for a living since my teens meant I’d always felt ‘older’, but when I hit campus I started reverting. I’d spent much of the previous ten years in jeans and T shirt dreaming up headlines; hardly an adult occupation, after all. I started thinking: maybe I’m young after all. And I think the process is now complete.

I just caught sight of myself in a window and the figure strolling in step with me was a young man. Tall, fresh, strong, relaxed, even with a perceptible stomach and squishy limbs after four months away from the gym. Somehow, against all the odds, I’m at peace.

It had nothing to do with body and everything to do with mind. I just stopped worrying about stuff and JUST DID IT. (I mean, joining a University skydiving club at 37?)

A couple of years back I made an effort to pursue a ‘normal’ life, worrying: where is the wife? The children? The car and the lawnmower? I was aging, weakening, not in body but in mind. Then this year came the apocalyptic realisation: that I really, really, don’t want that.

I wasn’t falling behind; I was ahead of the game. I like being alone, having my own space, doing my own thing. And for the next ten years – where I’ll concentrate on making money – a ‘normal’ life would be an annoying distraction.

(Of course, since having that realisation I’ve had women buzzing around me as if I’m made of chocolate, but that’s by the by. I’m much too young for a serious girlfriend.)

When I restart my physical fitness routine post grad, it’ll be different. Aerobic and meditative exercises centred on other things, the heartbeat and breathing, going for poise and agility rather than strength and speed. I still plan an Ironman next year, but it’ll be a side result of my training rather than a goal. With the right attitude, even an Ironman triathlon is easy. Fitness for events is one thing; fitness for life is another.

Before, I worried about losing what I had. Now as I reach the end of an expensive year, I have nothing at all… and it doesn’t worry me in the slightest. No money? I’ll make more. No home? I’ll buy another one. No friends? I’ll go out and make some more. Everything is easy now.

I used to worry about all that stuff… back when I was old.

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