Friday, 29 January 2016

No change

It's commonly thought that as you get older your outlook on life changes dram-atically and you're a very different person from your charming twenty something self.

Supposedly you become a crusty old right-winger, you recoil from anything new, you shout grumpy abuse at anyone you come across, you become tight-fisted and mean, and so on.

Well, even if that's generally the case, which I doubt, I must say it doesn't apply to me. I don't feel I've changed very much from that shallow, naive youngster groping his way through life forty odd years ago.

I still feel shallow and naive, I still feel marginalised and insignificant, I still feel I'm groping through life, I'm still baffled by most of what goes on around me, I'm still shy and retiring, and I still feel judged and misunderstood.

I'm certainly not a crusty old right-winger; if anything I've become more radical and sympathetic to new social trends like gay marriage and the personal openness found on social media. I don't recoil from anything new; if it's something that's going to enhance and improve my life, I grab it eagerly. I'm habitually polite and never shout grumpy abuse, even at people who thoroughly deserve it. I'm not tight-fisted and mean but very happy to spend freely on holidays, books, good food, wine and anything that enriches my existence.

My inner identity has barely changed through the decades. The external things may have changed - I have more money, I own a house, I've changed jobs, I've moved to a different city, I have a long-term relationship, I've become a hill-walker. But what's going on inside is much the same and shows no signs of fossilising into some hard-bitten, intolerant replica of Basil Fawlty.

Now excuse me while I grope my way through the rest of the day, trying yet again to make sense of it all.

30 comments:

Z said...

I know a good many older people who become very set in their ways - not necessarily in the ways you mention, but certainly more disapproving of anything that isn't done the way they like. I very much hope I never get like that.

Rachel said...

I don't think people become tight fisted and mean, if they are that way inclined then they always were and always will be. You don't suddenly become mean overnight.

tammy j said...

I've always had the feeling that whatever you are as a young person is what you tend to be as you get older...
only it becomes more apparent.
perhaps because as people get older they don't have the patience nor the desire to mask their more noxious self!
I think if you're a nice bloke when you're young... you're pretty much a nice bloke when you're older. and if you've always been a petty mean and even evil person...
then you're a nasty old git or bitch when you're old!
so... what was the question?
oh. there wasn't a question.
so I wrote all this long winded nonsense for nothing?
typical. no change here.
LOLOLOL.

Nick said...

Z: Yes, I've noticed a lot of that, the disapproving of the way things are done. The tut-tutting and the "I wouldn't have done it like that". Surprise surprise, we all do things differently, so what?

Rachel: You could be right. My father was always bad-tempered and self-righteous, right back to when I was a small child.

John Gray said...

Middle aged grumpiness is pretty normal me thinks
The world baffles me too sometimes .......everything moves too fast, too hard , too agressively

Nick said...

Tammy: Someone once said that as we get older, our negative characteristics become more exaggerated. Not sure I believe that either. You're saying something similar to Rachel about personalities being life-long, and I think maybe that's right. There are plenty of oldies who're kind, considerate and polite and probably always were.

Nick said...

John: I've never been grumpy, I just take life as it comes. I might complain about something for five minutes, then I simply leave it behind.

Exactly, everything's moving too fast and too relentlessly. It makes my head spin.

Bijoux said...

I don't think I've changed, but I suppose most people don't think they've changed either?

Ursula said...

"... and I still feel judged and misunderstood", Nick says. And that you do, Nick, that you do "feel judged and misunderstood". Whether justified or not. It's your default mode. So nothing changed there, and it won't.

I agree with Rachel and Tammy. Or as Mama Barn Owl whose baby owl was afraid of the dark (contrary to what is expected since owls are night birds) said: "You are what you are." "Yes, I know", said Plop, "and what I are is afraid of the dark." At which his mother sighed and developed a strategy to cure her youngster from being afraid of the dark. Successfully, I may add.

Why am I telling you this? I don't know. To bring some hope and sunshine into your life? To rattle your gloomy cage just enough to make you chirp but not enough to make you fall off your lacking in hope for mankind perch?

And say what you like about Basil Fawlty, few people (other than myself, Dylan Moran and Bill Bailey) have made me laugh more than good old Fawlty. Anyway, don't mention the war.

Hug, you old misery gut,
U

Nick said...

Bijoux: Good point. Maybe it's an entirely subjective view? Maybe someone who had known me all my life would say I'd changed in all sorts of ways? Unfortunately none of my friends are that long-standing so I can't ask them.

Of course my mother and sister might have an opinion. I must ask them.

Ms Scarlet said...

I quite like having a grumpy rant... I sound so stupid that I end up laughing at myself.
I once met an angry old tramp, he came up to me, waved a can of Tennants Extra Strong in my face and said 'Hitler's a cunt.' and I replied, 'It's okay, Hitler's dead now.' He laughed out loud and offered me a can of lager from his plastic carrier bag.
Most people have a light hearted side.
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet: Nice story. I quite fancy walking down the street muttering "Cameron's a cunt" but I don't relish the ensuing stay in the local nick.

Ms Scarlet said...

You should try it. Don't shave for a week, put on your scruffiest clothes, put a few cans in a carrier bag, and stagger down the road muttering Cameron's a cunt. No one will interfere with you, I promise.
Sx

Ms Scarlet said...

I do it at home sometimes... it's like my party piece. My husband always laughs.
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet: You're right. Everyone steers well clear of the local nutter. I'll have a go tomorrow night. I'll grab hold of a few posh-looking geezers, give them a blast of beer breath and pass on the benefit of my political wisdom.

Give my regards to Mr Blue.

CheerfulMonk said...

I've read articles saying some of the happiest people are over 70. They know how to put things in perspective and don't waste their time on unimportant things. That seems to be true of Andy and me. Life is getting shorter and shorter, we're not about to waste it. We laugh a lot.

kylie said...

my dad keeps telling me that he thinks mum could be losing it. And i keep saying that she is just becoming more of what she has always been. the point is, i t hink most of us are like that but it takes a long memory to identify traits that were weaker or better hidden in the distant past

Nick said...

Jean: Well, I shall soon find out if that's true, as I'll be 70 in just 14 months' time. But I guess I've always been good at not wasting time on trivia. I always want to make more time for the things I enjoy.

Kylie: It does take a long memory to make the comparison, and my memory is basically crap. I often think my 93 year old mum is losing it, but when it comes to the essentials like money she's totally on the ball.

Grannymar said...

I think I have changed, Nick. I often think that if Jack were to come back after almost twenty years, he would not recognise me, I must ask Elly one of these days if she would agree.

Nick said...

Grannymar: I also get the impression you've changed a lot in that time. Yes, you must ask Elly.

Dave Martin said...

I'll second John's comments - especially about the world being too fast and baffling.
I often feel like "Stop the world, I want to get off!", then I get home to the 'Zen temple of peace and tranquility' and it gradually fades away.... usually with the help of a large glass of wine.

Wisewebwoman said...

I'm with Tammy in extremists become our personal foibles and traits as we age. And seriously we should change and for the better. I know I've become more tolerant and more committed to social justice and more activist on elder rights. The smugs are more smug and whiny.
XO
Www

Wisewebwoman said...

*extremis

Nick said...

Dave: Our house is a bit like a Zen temple too, a quiet refuge from the outside hurly-burly.

www: I may have changed in minor ways, but ever since my teens I've supported social justice of one kind or another - gay rights, women's rights, decent housing for everyone who needs it, decent wages and working conditions etc. Nowadays I would just add a few more like rent controls and tighter bank regulation. You're right, the smugs are smugger and whinier.

Keith Smith said...

I don't think I have changed since my young days. I was a belligerent sod then, and I still am! Ha!

Nick said...

Keith: Perhaps I should respond to that in kind? Why don't you bugger off, you old idiot? No, I wouldn't do that, I'm a polite and considerate person - and always have been.

Rummuser said...

I have stayed the course in my ideology and am now glad to see some of my deeply held views on what needs to be done to India's economy being implemented. At the personal level, I have mellowed down a great deal and am more likely to flee than fight. I also tend to reminisce a great deal and sometimes younger people think that I am a bore.

Nick said...

Ramana: It's interesting how politic ideas once seen as complete lunacy often become mainstream ideas decades later. Fleeing rather than fighting has always been my own practice. In my experience fighting very seldom achieves anything, usually it just alienates other people.

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

I do try to keep a young outlook on life and to keep up with the latest technology, music etc. but I certainly hear myself moaning a bit more in my old age !! I think it happens to us all in varying degrees and, I try to stop myself when I hear myself doing it !!!! I think that it's quite difficult to accept change as we get older. XXXX

Nick said...

Jacqueline: I honestly don't think I moan any more now than when I was young. I remember moaning constantly about the government of the day, about anti-gay and misogynist attitudes, about restrictions on abortion etc. Not to mention the usual whines about the bus service and the weather.