Am I still me — now, at almost 80? Does our identity mature as our bodies and minds grow old?
I’m Rachel McAlpine, a writer living in Wellington, New Zealand, born in Christchurch in 1940.
My age is of special fascination to me at present, I’m not sure why. In February 2015 I turned 75. I used to think of life after 70 as a sort of misty holiday.
And then the penny dropped. What if we live well into our 90s, as predicted? That changes everything. A huge chunk of time still lies ahead, waiting to be lived, used, and relished. Do I fancy 20 years in a rocking chair? Blimey, I’ve still got enough time to qualify as a neurosurgeon! But I don’t want to be a neurosurgeon… so what shape do I want these precious years to take?
How to prepare intelligently for the bonus years? How to make them a blessing instead of a curse? I undertook a self-inflicted year of self-improvement, a Boot camp for the bonus years. In the process I learned a great deal about the weird ways in which old age looms in our minds, dreaded and unexamined, and I became super-sensitive to the plague of ageism.
My inner Sergeant-Major has permitted me to stop all that self-examination and self-improvement. But I’m full-on committed to understanding ageism, and if possible stamping it out — for all our sakes, young and old.
Type “boot camp” to search for blog posts about the boot camp
- They’re in a jumble. They’re not in order. (It’s a blog, huh?)
- They’re out of date. They were written on the fly in 2015-16, while I was doing the boot camp.
- They’re thought-provoking even as bits and pieces.
That’s why I’ve started writing a book for people who are looking for a programme like this, preparing for a healthy, happy old age.
- You will audit your own life lightly but systematically, looking at twelve different topics, one topic per month, from housing to identity.
- You will choose the changes that you want to make, one for each topic
- You will make small changes and start tiny habits.
- Small changes and tiny habits add up to big changes.
- The programme is both evidence-based and adaptable to your needs.
- Expect to see your confidence, optimism, and sense of control rise in a most satisfying way.
If you are interested in the future book, please let me know because I need encouragement too!
I send you my encouragement in your quest for a happy, healthy old age.
Image from “Una and the Red Cross Knight, and other tales from Spenser’s Faery Queene” 1905, public domain