200 Steps of Ageing. Part 1.
"What can it matter?" cried Dorian Gray, laughing, as he sat down on the seat at the end of the garden.
"It should matter everything to you, Mr Gray."
"Because you have the most marvellous youth, and youth is the one thing worth having."
"I donít feel that, Lord Henry."
"No, you donít feel it now. Some day, when you are old and wrinkled and ugly, when thought has seared your forehead with its lines, and passion branded your lips with its hideous fires, you will feel it, you will feel it terribly. Now, wherever you go, you charm the world. Will it always be so?"
"For there is such a little time that your youth will last - such a little time. The common hill-flowers wither, but they blossom again. The laburnum will be as yellow next June as it is now. In a month there will be purple stars on the clematis, and year after year the green night of its leaves will hold its purple stars. But we never get back our youth. The pulse of joy that beats in us at twenty, becomes sluggish. Our limbs fail, our senses rot. We degenerate into hideous puppets, haunted by the memory of the passions of which we were too much afraid, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to. Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!"
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray.
For years I have been noticing how badly older adults get treated in society which has prompted me to pay much more attention to everything concerning the ageing process. It has always seemed odd to me that people look down on the 'old' despite the fact that one day they will become old too. You would think it would make sense to respect old people and shower them with money and presents given that we are all heading that way. Most people donít want to die which inevitably means becoming old.
I began to compile a list of the things I noticed about ageing which I didnít think were generally known. Here is that list. It contains points that I would have liked to have known about when I was younger, and that I have noticed in people who are older. I think that a lot of the things described here usually only get noticed by people when they reach that age.
It has a slightly negative tone and is probably really depressing. Good. It can be fun to know what's in store. Try to look surprised. I may try to lighten it up in the future if I get round to it.
It is incomplete as there are a thousand things that could be said for each age. It is also slightly inaccurate as people age at different rates. It has a slightly male bias as, being male, I know more about male things than female things. It is lacking in a lot of information on private matters for older adults - this is harder to find out about for older ages, and would change the tone slightly. There are certainly things here that are incorrect or slightly wrong. I will try to keep correcting it and improving it as time goes on.
All the ages are approximate and sometimes act just as a guide.
- Everything you do impresses other people. If you can press notes on a piano, people will say you are the next Beethoven. Conversely if you canít do something that your peers can do, then everyone will be secretly worried sick that you will never be able to do it.
- Both literally and figuratively, when you are young you can trip and fall, and become just bruised. As you age every fall hurts you more.
- If you have an amazing talent then some adults will be impressed, while others will feel threatened. As you get older fewer people will care about your talent, or be threatened by it.
- The younger you are when you lose your virginity (within reason), the more romantically competent you will be throughout the rest of your life.
- The strength you develop at an early age will stay with you for a good part of your life, even if you don't work out much when you are older.
- Possibly because of hormones, or because you havenít learnt any better, you will be more politically radical, adventurous, risk-taking, aggressive and have a greater desire to effect social change than at any other age. This will fade as you get older.
- You will think of people over the age of 60 as really old, and think nothing of joking about their age or patronising them as if they were somehow a different breed of animal to you. You wonít really understand that if everything goes right in your life, you will one day be that old and older.
- For most men and women, if you learn to drive now or at a later age, you will think you are the worldís best and safest driver. It is not true. This belief will stay with you until shortly before you give up your licence.
- If you are male you will drive more aggressively and competitively than a similarly aged woman. This will begin to wane after the age of about 25.
- Up until this age (if you just left school), you will be defined as being 'at school' - what you study or what part time jobs you have wonít matter in how people see you. If you go to university then, whilst there, others will see you as 'a student'. However, once you leave education and get a job, you will be defined by the job that you do, and peopleís views of what you are, what you are capable of, what you know, and what your place in society is, will be set by what your job is. People will be surprised if a butcher reads books about Shakespeare, or if a teacher knows how to cut up meat. If a hairdresser creates an amazing invention, people will be surprised that a hairdresser is capable of such a feat, as people are defined by their job title and are seen to be just their job title. Likewise your social position will be defined by your job - a teacher isn't at the same level as a financial investor, even if the teacher is wealthier. The first question people ask a stranger is "what do you do?". The answer to this will set their expectations of you.