I open my curtains.   The garden is misty and cool.   As I turn back to regain the warmth and comfort of my bed, I catch sight of my face in the mirror.   For a change, it is with surprise that I see that some of my former beauty still drifts around me much as the pale mist still lingers around the shadowy garden.   So often in recent times a tired, strained, pain-ravaged face peers back at me.   With its lines and stresses, the grim compression of the mouth, it reminds me of some older relative whom one once stared at as a girl, and felt that one would never reach such a strange and awful age oneself.   Yet age has come upon me stealthily, both slowly day by day, and suddenly and imperceptibly.   I am 63.   I am older now than other women whom in my youth I regarded as ancient.

And yet … and yet …    I would not return to the sunny optimism of former days.   The now, today, is always where you ought to be.

I have never wasted time lamenting my fate, and have on the whole been able to accept the joys and sadnesses of life and count my fortune a goodly portion.    21st century man suffers from the delusion that he is master of his destiny and can control his fate.   How the gods must laugh at our folly!   We can no more control our fate than one could turn back a tsunami and completely unanticipated events bear down on us as swiftly and unexpectedly as a deadly wave.

But there are compensations to growing older.    You have more time to reflect and understand.   You see that you do not have to strive so hard: or perhaps it’s just a gentler kind of striving.   Whereas once you may have directed, now you influence.   You understand the value of a good example.   A quiet word, a gentle touch, some modest encouragement, a small kindness – these tiny gestures can help people out of all proportion to the effort exerted.    You know this because you have received these kindnesses yourself.

My husband, when aged about 40, had a eureka moment, when he said to me, ‘I see I have to stop looking for father figures, and go out and BE one.’    Similarly, there comes a point in your life – and it is a bleak one – when the ladies whose example you have followed, those quiet models of good behaviour, courage, wise counsel, high standards – when they have departed one by one, when you look around you and realise there is hardly anyone on the road in front of you.   Soon there will be  only you and those coming after you.   You understand that you will have to BE that example, or attempt to be it, ill-equipped as you are.

These days I am attempting to practise meditation.   No practitioner of any discipline can ever have started with less aptitude, grace or facility at the art than the reluctant incompetence with which I attempt this.    You would think, being a cerebral type, that I would find this easy, but I do not.

Yet already I see some benefits.  I am calmer.   My face looks less stressed.   Actually my pain levels are reduced, though I am afraid to count this in case I lose it.    I think  it is fair to say that I have always been generous and just if well treated, but dangerous  if opposed.    The leopard does not change his spots, but still, I am able to make more allowances for people.   I do not get out my sword quite so quickly.

When I look back on my life, I have few regrets;  but I could have been kinder and more patient.   I never went looking for a fight;   I issued two warnings;  but once these preliminaries were over, I slew them.   As I hefted my sword, I used to think, couldn’t they see I held it?   Well , clearly they couldn’t.      There’s none of these people whom I regret in the sense that I think they didn’t deserve what came to them – and besides of course no-one was literally injured, so in theory they could live and learn.   But I was not particularly merciful.   I ask myself now, what was the rush to judgement?   The sword was mine.   I could always have used it later.

Sometimes (rarely) in the period of meditation, a physical image will arise unexpectedly and surprise you with its beauty or strangeness:  or an insight will occur to you.   While you are practising the discipline you set it aside, but you reflect on it later.

I realise I am content.   In some ways one gets older and weaker;  in other ways one gets (hopefully) wiser and stronger.   I’m still for the goddess Athene.    Even though I am an old woman, the girl I was still runs beside me.

If you believe, as I do, that the events which befall one are uniquely intended for one, then you can go out and meet your destiny, secure in the knowledge that however unwelcome are the circumstances which overtake you, never the less they are to be embraced for they are a gift of some description.

We do not control our  destiny, but how we rise to the challenges that face us can make all the difference from being swept away on the great wave of events, or surfing on it to a safer shore.

We should not fear old age, but be glad we have survived to enjoy it.


About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.


  1. colemanje56 says:

    Especially enjoyed this post and agree with the sentiments of old age..I have never had a problem and see myself as wiser and more content! I have difficulty meditating have tried many times..maybe i am not ready yet! x

  2. adhocannie says:

    You, Jane, are just a tender sapling and no-where near old age! Thanks for all the kind comments.

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