Malcolm and I discuss ageing and potential
This post is a bit different from any others I’ve done so far. I had lunch with with Malcolm, a dear friend of mine (I hesitate to call him an old friend for reasons you’ll see when you read on) who’s a year older than me (he turns 60 next year) and we got into a thought-provoking discussion about ageing and our generation. So I thought I’d share some of the conversation with you especially as I’d love to know your thoughts and views. (As a bit of background: Malcolm was in advertising and now makes brilliantly creative films and videos. You can see some of his work here.)
Malcolm: I think people of all ages, but especially people of our age, are scared. We don’t know where we fit in the rule book, because we’re living in unchartered territory. Although we might feel a bit slower, we don’t feel like we think we should feel at our age. So I think a lot of us are going: ‘When do I start feeling my age? Because I don’t.’
Diane: We did some research early on when I was at Woman’s Weekly and revisited it at various stages, and discovered the same thing consistently - which was that whatever age people were, if you asked them how old they felt, they plumped almost unanimously for between 35 and 45.
We’ve got to a stage in our lives when we’re suddenly given freedom and we don’t know what to do with it
Malcolm: There’s that, and the fact that we’ve got to the stage in our lives when we’re suddenly given freedom and we don’t know what to do with it, because our road map in the past said we probably had another 10-15 years of life left and now we may face 20-25 years. And we don’t feel we’re coming to the end of our road, because of the way we’ve exercised, the way we’ve lived, what we’ve listened to, what we’ve watched, how we’ve dressed, how we’ve taken care of ourselves, and how we’ve loved. All of that has kept us younger.
Diane: I had the conversation with my closest friend, who’s a month older than me, about that road map thing and how we’d had a very clear road map through our own education, marriage, kids, career and all of that stuff and how now, suddenly, so much of that was done. We’d passed all the road markers on the way and now the road has branched out in a million different directions and we can just choose. And that feels thrilling and terrifying at the same time. But that’s the whole thing about our generation, isn’t it? We haven’t done things the same way as previous generations at any stage of our lives and that’s felt very exciting and dynamic. Now, at this sort of age, it’s a time of reflection for a lot of us. And we’re saying: ‘Well OK, if we’re going to this next bit differently, how’s that going to work?’
Malcolm: I agree totally. Because what we need to do is start a new chapter. And that new chapter doesn’t have to be sedate retirement as it might have been for our parents. I think it’s about saying what have I now got that I didn’t have before and how can I use that? How can I use that creatively; in terms of my relationships with people; in terms of communication or to benefit society? And then it’s a case of forcing society to take notice.
The thing that really obsesses me is human being's capacity and potential, because I think we all have the capacity to do things far bigger than we ever imagined. We have so much untapped potential. Maybe we’re the first generation who are going to start tapping into it.
I’m actually starting new things and experimenting as I’ve never done before. I feel I’m at the start of something not at the end of something. I’m not trying to replicate what I did when I was younger. That would be mad and a waste of the experience that I’ve had since then. Why would I want to do that? The experience I’ve had has enabled and allowed me to do things I would never have been able to do when I was younger. I’m not going to not do them because somebody says ‘time’s up’.
I’ve had to edit out a LOAD of other stuff that Malcolm and I talked about - including about our generation and technology (he says: “we’re the generation who invented technology. It’s our internet), how we communicate using social media (“we know how to talk to people. We grew up talking to each other”), the wisdom that comes from having lived a pretty long life and how we share that with the next generations, and a story he told about a remarkable woman who survived the Holocaust. Let me know if you’d like to read more of our conversation and I’ll put that together in another post another time.
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