For much of my youth I was puzzled by the attitudes towards ageing that people around me adopted. Generally, people’s future time orientation and expectations of ageing were both unabashedly low to the point they assumed getting “old” (basically 50+) was inevitable, shitty, and totally out of your locus of control. I never agreed.
My great uncle Tommy died last year aged 85. It came suddenly over the course of less than a year, as his hearing went, he became confused, and he suddenly lost alot of weight. A fairly unpleasant final year of life although he was only bedridden for about a month of it. However, the preceding 84 years were full of world-travelling and activity. A keen mountaneer and cyclist in his younger days, Tommy continued to cycle up and down country hills 20 miles a day, several times a week, into his eighties. He was slim without being skinny. And until that final year was also mentally alert.
In short, as an 80-year old man his general fitness, alertness, and overall quality of life was higher than most 30 year olds. These days it’s common to assume that physical degeneration sets in from thirty (back pain, aches, weight gain) and accelerates through middle age (sendatry hobbies) until by age 60 you’re hobbling around with bad knees and piss-stained trousers. Fuck no.
I expect the final 20 years of my life to be as high quality as any other 20-year section. My death will be preceded by a short rapid unravelling rather than multi-decade degeneration. Bad luck aside (e.g. cancer, stroke, accident), that is. I will not abuse myself in my 30s and thus compromise my 60s and 70s.
Generally, ageing is an opportunity. It is time you can invest in making yourself a better man. This was brought into stark relief for me a few days ago when I was in a restaurant in Thailand and noticed to men of similar age on adjacent tables who were light years apart in how they’d handled ageing. Guy A was cool as fuck. Guy B was a shambling schlub. So I snapped off a quick video on my phone. Apologies for the low res.
Note the following:
- Guy A has maintained a solid trim physique with well-proportioned lean muscles whereas Guy B has let himself get doughy skin, stooped shoulders and gone to fat.
- Guy A dresses with style and good accessorisation while Guy B covered himself in superglue and ran through Primark, looking generic and plain.
- Guy A holds strong posture with slow decisive movements and his lean-in towards his girl is interested without neediness. Guy B is sloppy and leans in from weakness.
- Guy A had a hot (I’d rate her high-7) young local girl who spoke good english, no tattoos, and an all-round nice girl look to her. She was most certainly not a bar girl. She spent the whole of the meal listening intently to her man and giving of soft female vibe. Guy B had a middle-aged emancipated woman with dowdy clothes and haircut and an air of uneasy equality between them as he ran every decision past her. Twenty years ago, she’d have still been no competition for the other girl.
You can look at a middle-aged man and know if he’s capable of dating young girls without artificial props and ruining his own life.