At coffee yesterday I ran into my handyman and his new bride, a handsome, happy couple. We chatted.
“Have you been to the night Noodle Market?”
“No,” I answered. But lest they think me a dull one, I rushed my words:
“I started the first Noodle Market in Sydney. When I was an Alderman. At North Sydney. After I had seen night street stalls in Asia.” All true.
But did they care? No
He looked at her. “She’s very active’” he explained,
And there you have it – the young unknowingly, albeit fondly, patronising the old as that was how I supposed they saw me. The initiatives, the struggles all counted for nowt. I was simply an active oldie.
I had another taste of aging on Friday night. It was the 50th anniversary of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties. About 1000 people there and afterwards, thinking on it, I realised I was possibly one of half a dozen or even the only one who had been at the inaugural meeting.
Not that I knew much about what I was doing then. A young undergraduate (I went to uni. at 16), I was simply pleasing some young man with my presence as girls were wont to do in those days.
But maybe I do myself a disservice for later someone came up and said: “You remember me? You made us all go to the cricket and collect money for South African Defence and Aid even before apartheid became an issue.” So yes, right back then I was committed.
But it made me dwell on 2 things…on aging and on what could be one of its blossoming tendrils, a recall and acceptance of the achievements of life.
The physical aging milestones from the first grey pubic hair to last week’s cracked tooth have little to recommend them but now I am dwelling on the emotional and spiritual progression.
I was educated in a Catholic convent; although it gave a strong sense of who you were it also drilled in the flipside, modesty. The 80/20 rule was rampant in my generation. You know the one. If women get it right 80% of the time they agonise about how they got it wrong the other 20%. For men, vice versa, they are proud to say, “Look at me I got it right 80% of the time.”
Anyway emotional aging means that I will reflect on things I have done and instead of beating myself up over the 20% of personal failures, I will be bold enough to reclaim all those small achievements …… the first noodle market, the first Sydney anti-apartheid action and all those other things. Perhaps one day I will even proudly list them on this blog.