The story of you — a poem about the shock of being old

Cartoon train going through tunnel. THE STORY OF YOU: How To Be Old: Rachel McAlpine

Emerging from a tunnel… Is this what it’s like, the shock of being old?

The story of you

This is the story of you, as you are now
or as you will be one day: unyoung.
It looks like the story of me
as I tackle the shock of being old right now
and watch a spooky movie
of my future self
surfing over a silver wave
and on to a golden tide
of the super-old, the oldest old
and stay there barrelling on and on
until I flip and tumble off
in other words I die.

This looks like the story of me
as I think about that for now
today this minute
and the future. But no,
I’m not the subject
and this is not a memoir.
This is the story of you.

~ Rachel McAlpine 2019

Want to know more about this poem? Want to know how it applies to you, if you have experienced the shock of being old? I read the poem aloud and talk about the ideas in Episode 1 of How To Be Old, a podcast.

11 thoughts on “The story of you — a poem about the shock of being old

  1. toritto says:

    Hehe. #metoo.

    🙂 Regard from Florida.

  2. Prue Densem says:

    The mirror of my life, again 😊

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:


  3. colonialist says:

    What, getting old? You are mistaken,
    For even though my bones are achin’,
    And I don’t gambol like young sheep,
    I’m simply going through a phase that
    I’ll look back with blank amaze at
    When taking second childhood’s leap!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That certainly sounds like a plan.

  4. Steve says:

    Great podcast! Thank you.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thrilled you like it 🙂

  5. Goosebumps…raw, poignant, and beautiful

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Wow, terrific feedback! I’m happy

  6. You get old slowly then very very quickly. When the new starters where you work could be your own children, any hope or denial about still being young should be discarded. You see teenagers wearing fashions you wore and the music of your youth becomes vintage. Stop kidding yourself. Enjoy your new wisdom.
    Getting old isn’t a shock.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you for the tips 🙂 Your first sentence is a gem.