Recently, a close friend become too old to drive. This event made me confront the fact that someday, old age will force me to give up this privilege. Of course, technology has made this issue less debilitating, as ride-sharing programs such as Uber now exist.
As I age, activities have become difficult, my memory is not a sharp and my interests are different. I still see what my world used to be like through my daughter. Her life is full of good intentions, youthful activities and wonder.
I find it fascinating and heartbreaking to watch her learn that the world is not ideal. People are mean, aggressive and selfish. Yesterday, she read about the American War of Independence and commented, “All wars are the same. It’s just people shooting at each other. The only thing I learned is that if I don’t shoot anybody, there will be no war. Learning about all that junk will not make me a better person.”
I explained that this topic is indeed important and learning about it is essential. Of course, this is the voice of reason, the voice of a mature individual who struggled through history class and the voice of a father who wants his daughter to get into higher education.
As I transition into old age, I notice my perspective changing. I place more emphasis into retirement, I am more conservative, take fewer risks and I have sidelined many frivolous activities. For example, since the age of 10, I wanted to build a dune buggy. Now, my back hurts and the thought of bumping around in the sand is no longer appealing. Youthful dreams have a limited lifespan and I have become that old person that tells kids to stay off the lawn.
My writing reflects this transition. For example, my plots don’t stray from reality and my characters are not outgoing. Of course, I go to great lengths to inject much youthful energy as possible. I write about immortals, aliens and spies. I have young characters with lives full of fun and adventure. However, it is clear that these characters were created from my 49-year-old viewpoint.
Getting old is not all bad. I do have a long term perspective and I am much more aware of consequences. This allows me to see the big picture and come up with realistic characters. I also have lots of life experience to draw upon and much better English skills. Overall, I feel older people write better books.
Well, this blog has come full circle. In October, I will turn 50 and I am neither looking forward nor dreading this moment. A friend asked me what special activity I planned to do for that day. Simple. Get up, go to work. It’s a Tuesday on a work week.
You’re the best -Bill
August 07 2019
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