I am 74. I retired in 2011 at age 68 when I started noticing I wasn’t as sharp in responding to problems. I also noticed my co-workers giving me the easier jobs when on a project,I was used to wading right in, sometimes literally. It was a water plant, after all.
Now, other things have manifested. If it doesn’t hurt, it itches. I have arthritis and allergies. My balance problems keep me off the third step of the ladder. I was falling off. I fell on the stairs, broke two ribs. I gave up motorcycling, given my desire to stay alive (Just go to motorcycle crashes on YouTube.).
People are dying. Yes, they have doing it all my life, but now it’s old friends, classmates, a guy I was Best Man for. Not people I viewed as Old People, but my contemporaries. Does that mean I am an Old Person? Yep. Old people see their friends dying. You can also tell if you are old by falling down in a public place. People laugh if you are young. You are old if they rush over to help.
Then there is CRS. I have always had a poor memory, but this is getting ridiculous. When I hear someone’s name on meeting them I tell them I will forget it. I head downstairs to get something, do two or three things I see need doing, and go up without I went after. Also, people my age tend to be terrified when they start forgetting. Is it Alzheimer’s? Am I going to be a drooling vegetable? I try to stick to my rule about not worrying about things I have no control over, but it doesn’t always work.
A good thing: after my ADD diagnosis at age 59 with the therapy and medication I have more focus. I can even manage to focus on stuff I don’t like to do. I used to put off paying bills until my anxiety level forces me to sit down. Now, I can plan the time and actually follow the plan some of the time. I can write. I don’t have to go to work. I just spend my four pensions and watch our investments slowly diminish.
Writing is a good thing for an old dude to do. I can do it most any time, usually mornings. I go to a coffee shop where I am something of a regular and do some extroverting along with the writing. I always wanted to write, but could not maintain the focus to write for myself. With a deadline, the anxiety level activated my prefrontal cortex enough to allow me to get the words down. In college I wrote papers for Forestry majors and the like for $10.00 per page (long time ago).
Now I write for myself. I almost always write nonfiction, like most of my reading. As you can see from this website, I have a wide range of interests. That’s probably a function of an ADD shifting his attention all the time. I need to know. They say ADD’s occupy an evolutionary niche because their shifting attention enabled them to spot those brutes from the neighboring tribe or the saber-toothed tiger. Sentinels. Of course, we are also smart and charming. Someone has to keep the place stirred up.
I have written a little fiction, some very short stories and a longer short story when taking a class at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop here in Denver. Good people there, students and faculty. Naturally, some English majors, more interesting than engineers, although impoverished.
For me fiction is hard work. You have to create the world of the story and invent the characters. Good fiction also uses lots of metaphor. I am not very good in that area, mostly because it takes lots of practice. I usually write about shifting tectonic plates; not so much need for metaphor there.
I have taken to reading novels aloud to Carol just before bedtime. She likes mysteries written by women, she calls them novels of manners. Much of their focus is on character development and scene setting, so they are a good light reading genre. The reading is fostering an interest in fiction again. Can I produce a story about geologists? Maybe a story about 19th Century naturalists and biblical literalists. Have I mentioned I like history?
I will have to work on producing pieces longer than 550 words, however. I can do the short essays in one coffee shop session.