Growing Older, Growing Wiser, Growing Ears and Growing Nose

Apparently there are only two things that continue to grow, no matter how old a man gets, and these are his ears and his nose.  This morning I looked in the mirror and contemplated life as Dumbo.  Why does nature arrange for the two things of which I am already most conscious, to become an ever greater feature of my ebbing life (and, as it happens, face)?  I suppose if things continue to develop as predicted, I might be able to wrap my ears around my face like a scarf and thus hide my giant conk.  Why does age do these wild things to the body?  I already have a prostate the size of a football and a bladder the size of a peanut: my brain has more holes than a Boris Johnson alibi.  I don’t think that I am losing my memory yet.  I don’t think that I am losing my memory yet, but I am acutely aware that my marbles stock is not what it was. 

I have developed an alarming tendency to take myself very much more seriously than it is sane to do, so I have resolved to give myself a metaphysical slap around the face whilst I slip a virtual whoopee cushion under my ever-expanding arse.  I try very hard to pop my own balloons.  My mantra since returning to this bloggy fold has been to lighten up.  I’m sixty three years of age, if I had anything of importance to say, I’m sure I would have said it by now.  I have a head full of mulch, and if I’m going to start taking that seriously then I fear that an odd loose slate may well prove to be the least of my problems.  This little blog of mine has always been about the vagaries of growing old.  I write it, and I am getting old.  It is a sad fact that, at its heart, it has always been all about me.  (When I see that written down, it seems far more vain than it feels.  It’s never been intended as a ‘Look at me’ kind of thing.  It’s about me casting myself as some kind of ‘everyman’, imagining that if it happens to me, it must happen to everybody else and…  Yes, ok, now I’ve read that out aloud it does seem even more vain now than it did a sentence ago…)  As a man who is growing old, I feel uniquely qualified to write about what it feels like to be a man who is growing old – and mostly, it feels like this…

Age brings a two-pronged attack with both the brain and the body taking direct hits.  Everything I once knew, I still know as well as I ever did – although it often takes a little longer to locate.  I can work things out and I can think things through, but I’m sadly aware that the bit of the brain that learns ‘new stuff’ has, of late, developed a tendency to let its attention wander a bit.  It doesn’t always remain present for the whole tutorial.  It doesn’t necessarily put its hand up when it doesn’t understand what the flip is going on.  It might, in fact, be wondering how long it can decently leave it before asking for a toilet break, instead of concentrating on left clicks and right clicks and how to stop taking selfies of its own ears.

I have a laptop at home and I’ve been bound to the countless variations of Windows for many, many years.  I use an Apple computer at work and, despite it being for all intents and purposes merely a bigger version of the phone I have had for many years, it confuses the hell out of me.  Why does it not do the same things, in the ways that I am used to?  It would appear that I can cope perfectly well with the ‘new’ as long as it works exactly the same as the ‘old’.  I am not one of life’s great adapters.  Nature has not designed me to bend easily to the unfamiliar as I get older.  I wonder, in fact, whether it actually intended me to do anything past the age of sixty.  As far as life is concerned, I think my work is probably done.  We are placed on this earth to have and to raise kids.  Many of us have done that now and, with some element of relief, left it all behind us.  We are now contributing to the nurture of our grandchildren: other people’s children / other people’s rules.  I do not recall that being in the manual when I first became a parent.  Grandparent Rules are different to Parent Rules.  Who knew that they shouldn’t have chocolate if they don’t eat their greens?  Who knew that ice cream and a ghost story is not the right way to tackle sleeplessness?  Who knew that we were meant to say ‘No’ so often?  As an old man I am well-versed in the absurdities of life: if I can teach my grandchildren to laugh at them, surely that must count for something.

As for the body, well, each successive blow does tend to knock the wind out of me just a little bit more.  I can still run and chase well enough to tire out the kids, but I bet that they don’t need a hoist to get them out of bed in the morning.  A single head-over-heels does not leave them needing traction.  I am of an age when mutating cells conspire to overwhelm me and I would be lying if I said that in the quiet moments the prospect didn’t terrify me, but nobody wants a bedtime story from a fearful old man, so I become the me who is not concerned and therefore, by extension, not old.  Growing old is just what happens.  As the strap to this blog says, whatever its drawbacks, growing old is better than all the other available options.  Life is not a battle: it is all we have got.  It is full of love and laughter as well as an occasional pain in the back and a strange tic in the eyelid. 

So we do what we do: we ease our conscience by buying a funeral plan – because we always wanted a free Parker pen – and in all other respects we completely ignore the specifics of what lies ahead.  We learn to live for the day, and even with the realisation that ears the size of satellite dishes do not allow us to hear the television without cranking the volume up to eleven, we laugh about the fact that everybody mumbles these days.  Surely a nose of this size (and growing) should mean that quite shortly I will not snore anything like so loudly during the Antiques Roadshow.

And if I’m honest, I’m not exactly certain how much bigger my lugs and hooter can get before I start to get blown over by the wind, but as long as I can still find a pinch of salt to take with my life, I think I’ll just about get by…

11 thoughts on “Growing Older, Growing Wiser, Growing Ears and Growing Nose

  1. We write about what we know and what do we know better? One hopes our experience may be of use to someone else or may even give them a chuckle. I only wish someone had told me all the things I didn’t ask until the people with the answers I sought were gone.

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  2. Ageing isn’t a nice thing to contemplate, much less see, but it happens, and as you say, option 2 doesn’t seem an improvement. My own laughter lines are deeply concerning to me these days. And thank God for foggy mirrors after shower time- I don’t want to see the bottom line.

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  3. “…a prostate the size of a football and a bladder the size of a peanut…” Yup. And my uncle’s ears and nose when I was a kid? I saw them in a whole different light then than I do now. “The larger the ears the more wisdom one has,” is my saying now.

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