I awoke this morning just before five – not by those occasionally rude word soldiers barking orders, but by a gentler muse whispering in my ear. Nevertheless, before too long, words like licorice allsorts, vacuum cleaners and old age began battering my brain. My head became a frantically busy thoroughfare in rush hour, until I metaphorically raised my hand like a traffic cop. STOP! I cried. Re-assembling the words in some sort of sane order, I had my piece for today. The licorice allsorts will have to await another time!
Eschewing the word ‘old,’ which dredges up images of bent, worn, wrinkled, decrepit, battered, and yes – sometimes, useless – I choose to use the kinder word ‘mature,’ which, OK, brings to mind a watered down view of old age, but somehow presents a more respectful, sensible, desirable view of a person in their later years. Mature is a word/state you can play around with and wonder at its meaning in a less dogmatic way than ‘old.’ After all, one can be mature when young or old, so it’s a happier word to accept when doddering towards the latter! (On a personal note, I am under no delusions about myself and admit to being a bit battered and wrinkled, but bent and decrepit I am not!! And certainly don’t regard myself as useless.)
Now we come to the ‘writing’ part and the analogy to the vacuum cleaner…From birth, we ‘suck’ up life from our Mother’s milk or a bottle, to – at first – every selfish thing which assists our survival. Then comes the gradual process and stages of learning what life is all about: the fun, the pain, the succour, the hunger, the incredible/amazing/minute/everyday magical discoveries; the happiness, the grief and the sorrow; problems and solutions. All the mind-boggling things which exist to make this miracle called life.
Each of us has his/her own pace and capacity for learning, from the slow to the jet-propelled, and our varying traits and personalities, similarities and differences make human nature interesting. The endlessly variable nuances and multi-faceted faces of people are fascinating, as is the awesome/exciting/frightening world at large. Is it any wonder that so many people want to write about, at least a segment, of this all-encompassing subject? I think not.
Winding up this article, I return to the ‘maturity’ of old age. What a privilege, and how fortunate it is, to get to that ‘state.’ To be able to look back over the years and vacuum-up, not just the dirt…but the occasional diamond (as I once did). As writers, whether we are young or ‘mature,’ we should do our level best to imitate the trustie vacuum cleaner and suck up all the knowledge we have accumulated, all the things we have seen, done and learnt; all the experiences, grief, happiness, the people who have crossed our paths; the people we have loved and sometimes lost; all the terrors and the joys of life, and inject them into our stories!