There are some undeniable truths about growing older. First, the things that don’t excite me much:
I was reading my book in bed the other evening, and couldn’t understand why, no matter how much I blinked, the words just wouldn’t become clearer. I put it down to tiredness, but my nearest and dearest tell me that soon (if not already) I’ll need a pair of reading glasses to keep the letters on the page from going fuzzy.
Then, my lower back doesn’t seem to like me very much these days – I blame years and years of playing competitive sport – and any small injuries I pick up while exercising seem to take a little longer to heal than they used to. And we won’t get into the protests I receive from my hamstrings, hip flexors and knees if I sit for too long at my desk.
Then there’s also the battle I’m slowly but surely losing with my beard – light (let’s say silvery-white) is triumphing over dark, in no uncertain terms. Shift over, Gandalf.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. For reasons I’m not specifically sure of, but can only attribute to the ageing process, people seem to listen to me when I speak in meetings these days (at least, they pretend to, compared to when I was younger). Perhaps it’s the grey, um, I mean silvery-white beard…
Also, children now tend to call me oom, and seem to respect what I have to say (that, or they’re just afraid of the cranky old grey-haired guy).
Finally, with age comes a degree of experience, and with that, the ability to make better decisions (or, if that’s not true, perhaps the older you are, the less you ought to care about what others think of your decisions, which is pretty much the same thing.)
What’s my point? Well, the unavoidable truth is that as time passes, our bodies’ systems and cells degenerate, sometimes visibly, and sometimes more covertly. And it’s not only ageing that causes systems and cells to malfunction. Often they’re caused by some degenerative conditions, or congenital disorders.
There is good news, though – some of these failing systems can be revived or replaced by the advancement of medical implant technology, cybernetic tech if you will. Turn to page 56 to read more about it. I joked about growing older, and it’s not this that’s driving the science, but it is interesting to me that we’re living in an era where cyborg technology is very real and being used to combat very real problems. Perhaps the most compelling question is to what degree it will ultimately affect the human race. I hope the answer doesn’t lie somewhere in the Terminator movies.
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MARK SAMUEL Editor @ marksamuel.za