Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Irresponsibility of Old Age

As you get older, you can find yourself pondering more and more, and doing rather less. Life is full of defining moments, but as the year’s advance, so it gets harder to remember what they were. For me, the time my grandson was sat on my lap, looking lovingly into my eyes and said “Gransha. Why have you got spiders up your nose?” finally brought it home that I was indeed getting old. Before this, I comforted myself by saying to myself “Yeah, but I am young for a granddad”. Suddenly, and by the way, I had tried without success that wonder innovation the nose trimmer; I was taking a fresh look at myself, accepting a few unpleasant facts! It was true, down to the new hairs growing on my back, which I didn't mind, but for the corresponding reduction of hair where it mattered, namely my head, that yes I was getting old. Time then, to look ahead and together with a calculator, workout what time I might have left! Producing a result of fewer years than I had contemplated, concern soon gave way to that dreaded emotion panic!

I reckon, during a lifetime, I have considered most imponderables of life, but found with the years going by, that I was giving more time to issues like “why do I always find blue fluff in my belly button, when I’ve been wearing red shirts?” It is one of the most infuriating things in my life that others should point out the obvious, before I thought about it. Yet, here I was, wondering where the hell I should be going from now on. Ridiculous, your life becomes a routine and you stick by it without much of a thought! I don’t know, but decisions and conclusions, always seemed easier before.

I guess there had been a kind of brooding discontent building over the years, something I can trace back to the passing into law for the requirement to wear a seat belt whilst driving. It seems to me, that as time passes by, personal liberty and choices are diminished. So okay I thought, time to do something! One of the biggest problems I faced was, well, how to say this without sounding contrite or smug; I really did not know what else I wanted to do in my life. For sure, I had reached a point where I had become fed up with diminishing pension funds, diminishing liberty, increased council tax and increasing taxes in general. It became depressing of thinking of a way forward, because the more concentrated your focus, the more you realised just how much you had accepted about your life, which really was quite intolerable. Somehow though, it seemed right to look at ways of gaining a measure of control and doing things that make you happy. However selfish this may sound, there comes a time, when it is important to consider yourself and those closest to you, in my case, my wife.

I have had, for a great many years, a polypus or is it a polyp? The former sounds friendlier, at about three o’clock to that mysterious place at the rear end called your anus! Now polypus and me have been on good terms for many years, but for no sane reason, getting older has made me pay more attention to the old chap. I wonder if he is getting bigger, or is it just relatives of scale, could I be getting smaller? You see! You find yourself worry over things, that when you were younger, you really never gave a thought to! I digress. Enough was enough; it was time to be positive about our negatives. Time to move forward, do something different. So, out of the blue, I up and say to my wife “What about moving to Spain?” The really shocking bit came, when she answered straight back “Yes, why not?” After picking myself up from the floor, dusting polypus and myself down, I had to feign that confident appearance of someone who knew his partner well, knowing she would have given that exact answer!

Not quite knowing if we were either very brave, or had completely taken leave of our senses, we set off in January 2003 for Spain. Our chosen mode of transport being a 1982 Mercedes Daimler motor home, 6 berths no less! Oh, by the way, we also dragged our dog along, good old Winston, a nine-year-old Black Lab! We aimed for Ronda; far enough away from the main tourist centres, but close enough to the many major services that might be required. Three days later we had arrived. A bonus with Spain, you are only ever a two hour plus flight away from home. I had made a previous visit, making arrangements to rent a two bed roomed villa. I would be lying if I told you that all has been a bed of roses since, but apart from feeling slightly vulnerable for a while, there have been no major problems. It is certainly cheaper to live here; in fact, it made us quite angry, particularly when we saw how much cheaper the basics were i.e. food, water and petrol. The people are friendly, more so if you make the effort to communicate in their language. The location, surrounded as it is by mountains and green, yes green, countryside, is simply stunning. People often ask me why I now lead folk around on wildlife tours worldwide and do wildlife guiding. Well, overall I feel time has treated me kindly and I hope to put back some of the things that I have taken, I've learnt a big truth, one of life's greatest pleasures is in the giving.

Peter is currently Chairman of the Andalucia Bird Society
Senior Guide and Head of Guiding at Worldwide Birding Tours
Senior Tour Leader and Guide for Spanish Nature


Mary Howell Cromer said...

Absolutely splendid writing, just outstanding and all so right on! If my husby and I could, we too would pack up and move from where we have known home to be most of our lives. The only thing is, we like the Rocky Mountain area, and I cannot take much more cold than we get in Kentucky...and so... we stay. Happy New Year~

Peter Jones said...

Thanks Mary, kind word and praise indeed. My goodness, I'd be loathe to leave Kentucky too! For me at least the move meant an improvement to the climate, much better and temperate winters here in Andalucia. Wildlife is also much more varied and besides I am extremely lucky to get away and travel as a tour leader and guide, so I guess that makes it easier to call home where I hang my hat. Healthy and Peaceful New Year, Peter

Dean Eades said...

great words

Peter Jones said...

Thanks Dean, please you enjoyed the blog. Have a great photography New Year my friend. Peter