Another year is drawing to a close and there is no denying that I am growing older. It is 40 years since I graduated and 25 years since I became a professor; however, counting the years does not give you a sense of age in the same way as the aches and pains that follow any serious exercise or the length of time that minor injuries take to repair [see ‘Moving parts can no longer be taken for granted‘ on July 28th, 2021]. These signs make it abundantly apparent that my body is ageing, albeit slowly, and providing incentives to take care of it through regular exercise – sitting writing blog posts is not sufficient! But, what about my brain? Apart from a tendency to forget people’s names, I am unaware of any signs of ageing. In fact, in many ways my neural networks feel more vibrant and capable of assembling in new complex patterns than ever before [see ‘Thinking in straight lines is unproductive‘ on July 29th, 2020]. Of course, that might be my mind fooling me in which case I will rely on others around me to let me know that it is time to retire. Gabriel García Márquez wrote in his novella Memories of My Melancholy Whores that “It’s not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old. They grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” I am stilling pursuing ideas and aspirations, some of which I report in this blog, so perhaps it is reasonable to assume that they are keeping old age away.
Gabriel García Márquez, Memories of My Melancholy Whores, Penguin, 2014.
Mike Carter, The Joy of Birds, FT Weekend, 15 October/16 October 2022.