“Sailors plan for safety. For escape. For survival. Sailors rely on plans, on strategies that have worked before. Trust me. Most mariners are conservative. We stick to the tried and true. The familiar." -- Randall Peffer, "Listen to the Dead"

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Sixty -- Some Thoughts

     I read a blog called Going Gently by a man named John Gray. He recently posted a few of his reflections on turning 60. I myself am well past 60 at this point, but his thoughts still resonated with me . . . and I thought they might resonate with you as well. So I asked permission, and he said I could reprint his post for my American friends.

     Honestly, I don't know much about John, except that he lives in Wales with his pets in what seems like a quintessentially English cottage, and he works as a nurse -- often taking night shifts -- at a nearby hospice. He's a good man, a good writer, and a good observer of the human condition. Now, if I only knew what a scotch egg is . . .  

      60 Some Thoughts, from Going Gently


     I know it's such a boring platitude, but I have to say the words always said at these times . . . Where does the time go? I'm writing this at 5 a.m. Albert and I are the only ones awake. Dorothy is gently chewing on my PJ bottoms. She's dreaming she's a puppy.

     Where did the time go?

     I couldn't tell you . . . I really can't.

     So, I have been reflecting . . . like you do. I'm reflecting until Wednesday when it actually hits me albeit gently . . . square in the face. On the 1st. I'm working all day, and we are shorthanded. I won't have time to feel anything.

     Here are just 20 thoughts, thoughts in the night just before dawn.

      1. Working where I do has made me realise that people who "hate getting old" are idiots. You are allowed to hate becoming ill, becoming infirm, becoming depressed. But don't hate getting old. I am lucky reaching 60. I know that, and I am grateful.

      2. Memory is a fickle friend.

      3. Strange as it may seem sex is better now than when I took it for granted. However, it is unfortunately more infrequent.

      4. Certain memories last a lifetime and they will never leave you. I dip into a score as I lay in bed . . . 1968 Janet and I doing Tarzan impersonations out of our bedroom window. 1972 my grandmother smelling of love and cold cream. 1973 my first viewing of The Poseidon Adventure.

     1980 a family party at Ann's house. 1992 getting drunk with Nu in a Galway pub . . . dancing on a Sheffield hospital roof in the dark. 1996 seeing New York City from the air.

     2002 meeting my first dog Finlay . . . true love. 2015 getting married. 2016 watching the corps de ballet in Giselle at the Royal Opera House.

     Happiness . . . a flash of realising I was happy, truly happy.

      5. Being a nurse . . . and seeing people at their very best often when they were experiencing their very worst.

      6. Now realising that when someone starts a conversation with, "I'm not being . . ." they always are.

      7. Actions always speak louder than words.

      8. I miss not being a dad, but I can now be a cool sort of uncle and grandadish. A couple of weeks ago my teenage nephew Leo texted after a date and excitedly told me he'd just had his first kiss.

      9. Friends are life, but at 60 they start to leave you. Please treasure them.

     10. The Walking Dead needs a UK version, and I soooooo want to be in it.

     11. I no longer have to pretend to put up with bad behaviour, bad music, bad films or toxic people.

     12. I don't expect good news coverage on breakfast TV. I say what I think more when I deal with any services and won't put up with shitty management at work.

     13. Never talk about politics, gun laws, or post a seemingly innocuous blog without thinking about it online. And if I do, I expect a load of shitty responses.

     14. I now recognise that real friends are real in so much that they don't rationalise affection or praise or support. They just accept you.

     15. Sleep if you can in the afternoon.

     16. What did we ever do without phones and internet?

     17. Don't be disloyal to yourself. I've done it far too many years now. Don't do things you don't want to do. Don't be what you don't want to be, and don't expect others to do the same.

     18. Eat a scotch egg when I bloody well want one.

     19. If you love someone, tell them. Tell them as often as you can.

     20. To now move forward into my 61st year by embracing a new skill (professional counselling), a new career, and new experiences. I realise that and deserve it.

     Hey ho, I'm almost 60. And I'm off to work, soon. So wish me a happy birthday. I'm shallow enough to enjoy every single comment.


Anonymous said...

Hello deArheart
Thank you …..
Just note I live in Wales not England ( different country xx) and I’m a hospice nurse
But tickled pink you’ve posted my blog entry x
John ( going gently)

DJan said...

Thank you for sharing these wonderful thoughts, and thinking that the world is much better off for having people like John in it. And you, too, Tom. :-)

ApacheDug said...

It's a good piece Tom, and worth a re-read. Thanks for sharing. It's ironic, as just this morning I saw an interview with Ricky Gervais about being 60 (and turning 61 this June), and he admitted to some feelings that I very much have too. I began writing something for my own blog as I am also 60, on my way to 61.

But I can relate to much of what John wrote here--and a Scotch egg is delicious, it's a whole egg encased in crispy sausage! (Tho' I'm sure you know that by now.)

Arkansas Patti said...

Those are wonderful words to live by--at any age. Oh to be 60 again.
Had to look up scotch egg and it looks delicious. Gonna have to try it.

Tom said...

John -- I apologize. I'd correct it, but then it would make your comment seem puzzling; plus, now people will know the truth about how provincial I am. Cheers ... and many more years of happy blogging!

Tom said...

On second thought, I will correct it ... people will still know how provincial I am.

Linda Myers said...

Such lovely truths from John.

Terra said...

These are wise words from John, and good advice at any age. Oh to be 60 again, I think of 60 as being rather young.

Gail, northern California said...

I've been following John for a long time now, in fact I start each day with him. His blog reads like an incredible private journal and he makes no apologies. It's wonderful. When time permits, read "A Cool Pillow" from 5/8/22.
Agreeing with me, a friend wrote this about John's writing: "He somehow manages to make seemingly unimportant little details of every-day life sound more important than just anything else. It’s an art."

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom! (and John!). Thank you for this thoughtful post and an introduction to a blog that I will definitely check out. I just turned 67 and honest thoughts like these always trigger my own about where I am and what is important. (isn't that the beauty of writing?). Reflecting on memories, love, friends ...although I too have never (yet) tried a scotch egg I look forward to that experience. Naps in the afternoon are also lovely. And even now that I'm traveling again we always take time to have siesta in the middle of the afternoon even though there are dozens of things clamoring to do and see...somehow the naps always win out and I have no regrets about them. And I especially can't imagine living without internet and phones. The travel that we're doing now would be impossible (yes Thom is still working remotely) even just 10 years ago. I count my blessing every single day! Thanks to you both for the reminders.

Mona McGinnis said...

Thanks for reposting John's blog post on turning 60. I've enjoyed his blog immensely. He does elevate the everyday. He's an honest writer and tells it like it is but at the same time elevates the everyday. And he should have a medal for the hospice work he does and also his contributions to his community. He offers many poignant reflections on life.

gigi-hawaii said...

He seems like an interesting blogger. I chuckled at No. 3 about Sex.

Laurie Stone said...

All wonderful thoughts. John's obviously gained a lot of wisdom over the years.

Rebecca Olkowski said...

I love the first one, especially. We get better with age. It's sickness that we should worry about.

Revoix said...

My Scotch Egg experience at a long closed MI restaurant had a hard boiled egg encased in what seemed more like a ground round vs. a ground sausage; baked well done and paired with a potato dish, which kind of reminded me of a meatloaf meal. You've gotta try one sometime, Tom!

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Jennifer (UnfoldAndBegin) said...

Yes to naps in the afternoon! They are so lovely. And now that I'm 60, no guilt is attached to an afternoon nap.

Kay said...

Thank you for posting this, Tom. I really enjoyed seeing John's views. He sounds like a fabulous person. He's reminding me to be grateful for my age.