The biggest agent of change as we age is, it seems to me, that life becomes less about us as individuals. At, say, age 20 it's all about me, at 40 it's about me and my immediate family, at age 60 it is about children, grandchildren, all children, family, friends, people we know, people who've lost their homes in a bushfire, people we don't know. If that wasn't always the case it may be that we're a better class of old codger these days.
Some kindly and younger soul sent me an email the other day pointing out that I am too old to do what I do for this newspaper, and I agree with him.
You see, with the exception of a few brief years in the middle I've always been the wrong age.
As a young journalist I was much too young to write anything other than what I was told to write by the older people I interviewed, and that applies to all young journos. The angst when I didn't follow directions usually made direct or indirect reference to my tender age.
Later, in my early 30s, when I was sent to comment on the workings and otherwise of Newcastle City Council, an assignment that led to the council's sacking in 1984, I was still much too young to write anything the elected members of council didn't like, although depending on what I wrote some who saw me as too young on one day didn't see me as too young the next.
Somewhere in my middle years, perhaps in my 40s, age ceased to be an issue. For a limited time only. Because at 50 when I was writing a daily opinion column with an opinion that was not always well received I became too old.
By age 55 my detractors were raising the prospect of retirement, of my retirement, and occasionally so did I.
Now that I am retired I am deep within the age of irrevelance, where I am often not seen because I've become invisible to younger people and where I should not be heard. The reason I should not be heard has been explained to me by each of my children from nine or 10 years old, and that is that I "don't know anything".
I can hear it still, the shrill protests, although these days in their 20s and 30s they find the dearth of my knowledge and understanding more amusing than challenging. I sometimes wonder if texting with a jabbing finger rather than with two thumbs means I know nothing.
Things have gone from bad to worse for everyone who is too old since the scowling and scolding Greta Thunberg accused everyone who is older than her and thus too old of stealing her dreams and childhood. Suddenly we who are older are culpable, and instead of younger people not seeing us we are hiding from younger people.
We are seen as not mattering, as being of no consequence, when the ageing population in Australia and other western nations means that the reverse is true, that the vote of older Australians is becoming more influential every year.
Expect, in the next decade, a renewed push for the vote for people we regard now as children, and driving this will be the hope of reducing the voting power of people over the age of 70, or 65, or 60.
Why should old people have a vote when they won't be around to bear the consequences? Aren't old people making choices that should be made by young people?
It's a fact that many people are seen as being the wrong age at different points during their life, and it is a fact also that people have different qualities at different ages.
Perhaps I am very wrong in believing that the differences in me at various ages apply generally, and that statement itself illustrates a noteworthy difference, that the older me is more willing to countenance being wrong than the younger me.
Errr, another noteworthy difference is that I was much more likely to be wrong then than I am now!
As a young fellow I was impetuous with little regard to consequences, when now I am cautious and keen to be compliant. In middle age I suspect I was halfway between the two.
I was inconsiderate, in so far as I did not as a matter of course consider my impact on others, when now I am considerate. Mostly. I was a procrastinator and I still am, although these days I speak out against the procrastination of others. It helps me feel better.
In the first two decades of adulthood I knew it all and in the last two decades of adulthood I know that I didn't.
The biggest agent of change as we age is, it seems to me, that life becomes less about us as individuals.
At, say, age 20 it's all about me, at 40 it's about me and my immediate family, at age 60 it is about children, grandchildren, all children, family, friends, people we know, people who've lost their homes in a bushfire, people we don't know.
If that wasn't always the case it may be that we're a better class of old codger these days. But we're not so much better that we don't see the 17-year-old Greta Thunberg as too young to have a reasoned opinion she developed herself, as too young to have the stage, and as too young to be more than a sour curiosity.
And certainly as too young to have a vote.
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