Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Longevity and filling the time ahead

9 December 2014 - today - is the sixth - yes, sixth - anniversary of my public debut as a person named Lucy Melford. Several other very important personal events have followed.

But now, in 2014, there are no more big events still to come. The little app on my phone (called Days Since) that tells how many days it is from today to important happenings in the past, or in the future, is at the moment blank for the future.

Well, that's not quite true. I've put in the dates of my 70th, 80th, 90th and (chancing my arm a bit) 100th birthdays. This reveals how optimistic I am! But also how important it now is to live as long as possible. It would be very satisfying to say - at ninety - that although two-thirds of my life was spent in the 'wrong' way, I did spend a full one third of it in the 'right' way. And that, all told, none of it was a complete waste of time.

I have no idea what state I'll be in at ninety. I shouldn't assume that I'll be in amazingly good health, or that medical advances will keep me bouncy. Or that the world in 2042 will be a pleasant place for old people. But all these things might be true. If I look after myself, and no accidents carry me off, I think there's a decent chance that I'll still be around. The real issue is how to occupy the enormous span of time from now until mid-century.

It really is a lot of time. I could draw up a long list of things that might become a problem in the years ahead. Health will always be at the top. But what else? Having a suitable home, and sufficient money, shouldn't be. But finding new and interesting things to do might. There are only so many fantastic holidays that one can afford, or find the energy for, and besides, one can't be holidaying all the time. So I think the battleground will be at home, on the average day. Will I sink into an unvarying, unexciting routine, or constantly be out and about?

So long as maintain my independence, and have no partner, then I will be forced to stir my stumps and get out of the house for company and things to stimulate me. So the single life is, for me, clearly a Good Thing. I know that most people will extol the genuine benefits of living with someone: not least the companionship, the mutual support, the sharing, the sense of purpose in having someone to look after. Those are Good Things too. But they are not for me. I've had a two dips into the shared life, and, for all its nice aspects, that life now seems in retrospect limiting, full of unwanted compromises, and it insulated me from much of the wider world. There was always too much of a tendency to look inwards, not outwards, and fall into inertia.

Maybe I was unlucky. Maybe it was because I didn't do it as Lucy Melford. Or perhaps I just didn't have the right temperament. I think it was the latter. So I won't be trying again. Which means I'll have to be very inventive about how I create a satisfying life in the years to come.

Time to add some more entries in my phone app!


  1. I'm very happy indeed to have a partner as old age creeps up on me. Sue and I spend a lot of time at home in each other's company, but the need to get out of the house and do something is no less real than it is for you. The alternative is to become a reclusive couch potato, and that simply will not do.

    How about learning the ukulele?

  2. No musical talent whatever, I'm afraid. I'm still steeling myself to start the rag rug!



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