Don’t Let Them In!

By Gillian Scott, 61. Melbourne, VIC

I saw a quote the other day attributed to Clint Eastwood, and I don’t know if really he said it or not, but it seemed like a sound philosophy.  

When questioned about what he was doing in the following weeks, 91-year-old Clint responded that he was directing his next film. The questioner expressed surprise and wondered how, at such an advanced age, he was able to do that. 

Clint’s response was simple and to the point: “I don’t let the old man in.”

That made a great deal of sense to me.

I think it is quite fair to say that if  you ask ANYONE who is in the later part of their life, they will tell you they “still feel the same inside, the same as they ever did”. In other words: still youthful, still capable, still relevant and vital. However they might see themselves, they can and will get shut down by others’ insensitively-expressed beliefs and opinions. Not to mention dismissal by societal  judgements and expectations.

I don’t appreciate or have the remotest interest in retirement housing, funeral insurance, and — God forbid — nursing homes. However, it is that tiresome rubbish that appears in my news feed on the ubiquitous social media, since my date of birth is known and shared, I suppose, to those advertisers.

I can tell them they are barking up the wrong tree. I don’t have any desire to be reminded of my chronological age. All it means to me is that I have less time to continue to achieve my goals and taking those journeys and experiences I have promised myself.

I was told by an ex-boyfriend many, many years ago that I was one of those women who would look better the older I got. A weird statement  for sure, but I decided to believe it. 

And like Clint, I refuse to let the old woman in. Oh, she’s there in the mirror sometimes, and in the tiredness that occasionally strikes early in the evening, in the forgetting the name for something —that’s the worst thing. But I’m still travelling with my husband (who is a bit chronologically younger than I am) and my adult daughter, creating and performing plays, writing poetry and articles, shoring up my school girl French, and learning lines.

I’m in no way past my best, and although I’ll be the first to admit that age has played a few tricks on me, rendering me an amusing cliche at times who still makes dodgy decisions. And with some moving parts removed and replaced. I truly don’t feel differently. In fact, probably a lot more self-assured.  

In short, I don’t care what people think anymore. They may judge and assume away. The grain of truth in their idea of me will be swamped by how wrong they get it.

Any nastiness will earn the perpetrators a culling from my life. Who needs it?  As far as I’m concerned, there is no need to lash out. But if one isn’t prepared to sit down to discuss and debate differences of opinion, I haven’t the time to wait until one does.

I am a warm and forgiving person though, and I always have been. I can only hope I am treated with similar energy, but understand if I’m not. Whatever your age, whoever you are, you can only do you. 

As for me,  I’ll say it again: I have no intention of letting the old woman in. I might let the woman with the drama addiction — not the acting kind — out. In fact, it might be a good idea to kick her out.

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10 months ago

Hi Gillian, I very much enjoyed your article and I’m sure it’s very relevant to many of us. Mostly, I don’t much care what others think, apart from my husband, family and friends. Having said that, I was chuffed yesterday, when at my new GP, she commented upon what beautiful skin I had during a skin cancer check. That gave me a boost, as I’m 71. I’m only old when it suits me, but generally, I ‘don’t let the old woman in’ either.

10 months ago

Thanks, Gillian, yessiree! Nice work. Clint Eastwood still looks rather appealing, I think.