TUMBY BAY - I like walking but just lately my right knee has started playing up. Every so often the bits kind of grind together and it aches like hell.
Goes away if I grit my teeth and keep hobbling along. I reckon it’s probably a case of one mountain too many. Way back in another life in the Star Mountains.
My left knee is a bit painful too, but I know exactly what’s going on there.
I was walking around the rocky headland across from Tumby Island with the dog when I went arse over tit and landed heavily on the rocks.
Badly grazed knee and blood everywhere. Sore elbow too. Vertigo I think. Got something to do with my failing eyesight. Limped home with the dog.
Buggered up a good pair of strides too, big rip that can’t be repaired.
That I was even contemplating repairing them probably alerts you to the fact I’m getting on in years.
No one repairs clothes these days, Pop, they just go out and buy 10 more pairs of whatever they want.
Changing the dressing on my leg and thinking about all this, I came to the conclusion that getting old is a very painful experience.
When I’m not doing direct damage to myself there are lots of other aches and pains. Mostly arthritis the quack tells me.
And paper thin skin. Too many years in the sun. I can create bruises on the back of my hands and arms by just staring at them.
Not that I’m complaining. Well, not much anyway. Still got all my own hair and most of my teeth and am upright most of the time.
I’m just a bit annoyed that no one told me that all this painful decrepitude would set in when I got old, nor how quickly it would happen.
Still, I’m a bloke and can tell myself that pain, within reason, is something nothing. Grin and bear it as they say.
The other thing that is equally disturbing is the sense of fear that old age brings with it.
As one’s physical state deteriorates two things happen. You no longer have the strength and resilience to get by and you have to rely on other people too much.
That’s a demeaning thing to suffer.
My son-in-law came round the other day and announced that he was going to climb up on our roof and clean the gutters.
I was gobsmacked. For as long as I can remember I’ve climbed on roofs to collect all the leaves and flush the dirt away. I’m an expert in the trade. Apparently my daughter had sent him.
I let him do it and didn’t tell him I was planning to climb up there and do a bit of painting later on.
Then I thought about what would happen if I fell off the roof. It didn’t bear contemplating.
That’s physical fear but old age also brings mental fear.
Technology has got a lot to do with that kind of fear. Things are moving so fast it’s hard to keep up.
Slowly but surely everything is shifting online. If you are not computer literate the future is going to be very grim.
If you want to survive comfortably in the crazy new world technology has created for us you have to somehow get your head around it all. It’s such a drag, to coin an old cliché.
We’ve now got a car that is operated almost entirely by pressing buttons.
And the bloody thing actually talks to me as I drive along.
“Don’t do that you silly old fart,” it announces when I try something it doesn’t like.
With my declining eyesight and slower reflexes, driving a car on our madcap roads is a trial in itself. Having the car tell me I’m an idiot doesn’t help my confidence. It scares me.
Then of course, there is my memory. I can recall with what I think is crystal clarity events that happened 50, 60 and even 70 years ago, but at the same time I can’t recall what I did 10 minutes ago.
Losing one’s memory is particularly scary. If I can’t recall what happened 10 minutes ago it’s entirely possible that one day I could forget who I am and who are all the people around me.
That sort of living oblivion is too fearsome to even contemplate.
And while all this is happening there’s the fear caused by the whole world apparently going down the toilet at an accelerating rate.
Big business and our politicians are colluding to destroy our planet as fast as they can, all in pursuit of another buck.
I’ve always been one of Mother Earth’s disciples and when she becomes threatened I get scared on her behalf.
And worry. Mostly about the world my grandchildren will inherit.
It’s a lot easier than I thought to resign myself to the fact that I’m mortal and will one day, not too far in the future, cease to exist.
I know if I plant a tree today I won’t see it full grown. The only reason I’d do that is so it will shade my descendants.
But that’s important. That’s why we are here in the first place. To make the world a better place, even in such infinitesimal ways.
So perhaps this dimming of the light and achy knees are worth it after all.
It better be, because if it isn’t someone is going to bloody well hear about it.