Thursday, 23 September 2010
yours sincerely, wasting away....
Perhaps it's my imagination, but at some point in my time away from work, I realized that I looked significantly older. I don't really think of myself as an especially vain man, and I've been balding and greying for at least a decade without giving it all that much thought, but all of a sudden, I looked in the mirror and felt as though I had reached some kind of a tipping point: the odd grey hair had become very definite grey flashes, there were now several white patches in my stubble, and the grey hairs on my chest now had a beach-head and seemed to be massing before an advance.
I also am suddenly aware that it's only a matter of time before I'm going to need reading glasses too. As my surgeon warned me, this is something that short-sighted people don't really notice - you can always look under your glasses to read small text that you otherwise can't focus on. It's now been 2 years since my eye operation, and I've really noticed the change in my ability to focus on things very close to me. I'm at about 20cm now (which is fine), but I'm reluctantly resigning myself to the certain knowledge that one day my arms won't be long enough.....
Well, perhaps that's what taking 9 months off work will do for you. It seems that it was only my job that was preventing my an even faster descent into decreptitude. In no way did it cross my mind that it could possibly be related to all the additional quality time that I was spending with my lovely wife.
How could you think such a thing?
I'm 36 years old. What else did I expect to happen as I got older? Why should I be different to anyone else?
As I'm never likely to risk my sexual function for the apparent regrowth of my hair, rogaine was out of the question (who the hell thinks that's a trade off worth making?). I'm also unlikely to reach for a packet of Just For Men. The grey chest hair is a bit of an affront, but I don't actually mind the grey flashes everywhere else (and no, I've not found any THERE yet, although I must confess that I'm not obsessively looking....) As for the reading glasses I will likely have to wear. Well, so be it.
I guess I'll just have to live with the visible signs of ageing. Well, that and stepping-up my already rigorous facial skincare regime, obviously (it was pointed out to me when I was diving in Australia and wondering why my mask was leaking, that I had deep canyons on either side of my nose heading down towards the edges of my mouth that were channeling water in. They're not wrinkles, they're laughter lines, right?)
I've worked with lots of people in my office for several years, and one of the things that I have noticed since my return is how some of them - particularly the ones around my own age - have visibly aged in the nine months since I last saw them. It's not that everyone looks older or anything, it's just that some people look distinctly older since I last saw them. Of course, when you see people every day, you don't tend to notice the gradual changes that happen to everyone: people gain weight, go grey and lose their hair all the time, it's just that normally you see it happening so slowly that you barely notice. I've returned to work to see people suddenly (to me) looking a bit older, a bit greyer and a little more worn-out than when I last saw them.
I imagine they're saying the same about me. At least they've got the excuse that they've been at work, right? I've been travelling around the world and look at me....
Being slightly wistful about the ageing process is probably par for the course, but trying to do anything much about it is to be like King Canute trying to arrest the flowing of the tide. Pah. Give me age and wisdom anytime. I wouldn't be nineteen again for all the tea in China. I didn't know what to do with hair when I actually had it.
Besides, now I'm old, grey and married, I'm apparently much more interesting to the opposite sex (so my wife tells me. I can't say that I've noticed). Where were they when I was younger and might have had a use for them? Tell me that.
Ah well, in the midst of life we are in death, etc.