Angst on becoming 62

Roger Stott, 25 June 2000

I can’t imagine myself in my sixties – inside, I’m only 45. (The calendar cheats, time-travels, tells lies about me.)
What was it the Fool said to King Lear : ‘Thou shouldst not have become old
until thou hadst become wise. . . ?’ Time enough yet. Or is there? Middle-age finished
some time ago but I wasn’t paying attention. Let’s say – for the sake of argument –
that the arithmetic is right. 1938 plus 2000 makes sixty-two. Shouldn’t there be serenity now, some sagacity,
the beginnings at least, of mellowness, a declaration of peace? ‘Calm of mind, all passion spent’ (Milton) ? Why then
this disturbing drumming, why this clamour, the strong running of blood, the long list
of things undone that ye ought to have done? The world’s turning faster – months and years used to settle, stay around for a while,
get acquainted; now they scamper in, don’t even shake hands, flicker by me, leave
without ceremony. I stare at retreating backs.

Sixty-two then. Cards and presents came – I shall spend the day working.
One very bright thing:
the hibiscus on my window sill opened its first flower of the year
today, right on cue. An event: large, colourful, fragile, hopeful stamens reaching for the sun.
I keep going to look at it. Tomorrow it will be gone.