Today is a bit different, I thought that I would jot down some things that go through my mind as I get older and crankier. No this will not be some tirade about how the world has done me wrong or how it used to be so much better when I was a lad.
I think the single biggest thing that has changed as I have gotten older is that I hang out with my friends less and less. When I was an underemployed youth in the regional Queensland town of Rockhampton I didn’t have time to get bored, if I was not working I was hanging out with my mates. That slowed down as I got into my late 20’s and early 30’s and almost disappeared during my 40’s. My friends were my world and I enjoyed each and every moment of it. If I am being honest with myself I lament the loss.
I turned 51 last year and raged against it as I viewed that that best parts of my life were over and that it is all down hill from there. I must admit that I wallowed in self pity for a while and also felt a bit of grief for my lost youth. I suspect that all men of a certain age feel that to a greater or lesser degree. Perhaps that is what a Mid life crisis is? I have no idea.
What I do know is that time has passed and I have come to terms with my aging. Not my mortality, that monkey will never get off my back. Last month I had lunch with a very good friend. We chatted, laughed about the silly stuff that is happening in the world and at then end we both said that we should do this more often. My friend was the one that made the observation that men just don’t hang out and chew the fat, and he is right. I truly applaud the efforts of the various Men’s Sheds in creating an environment where guys can come together and spend time in each others company. As a wargamer I have this opportunity as well. But sometimes it should just be coming together just to be together. Not in a hippy dippy, lets hold hands and be one with the universe way but rather a bunch of guys getting together and laugh.
I remember just hanging out with my friends, male and female, and just enjoying each others company, not having plans or things that need to be done but just time together. This is what I have lost as I got older and I think that I am not alone in this. We lament that loss of youth and what it was to be young but if I really think about it, what we are really lamenting is the ability to just sit and be with friends. To be honest I don’t really miss my youth, the raging hormones and the extreme poverty but I miss what I used to do and the friendships that went with that.
Am I going to get that back? Again if I am honest with myself the answer is a resounding no. My life is different than 35 years ago and I would not change the journey I have been on. I have responsibilities, I am a father and a husband and these have been rewarding despite the stresses that go with it. I suppose what I am really saying is that the journey is its own reward, however make sure that you make human contact from time to time and maintain it. This has always been my issue as I am a terrible correspondent, I tell myself that I will answer that email tomorrow and then forget, 2 weeks later I finally remember and do it.
I recently realised that one of the main attractions of being a wargamer was the opportunity to reconnect and talk. Often the main topic of conversation is what project is next and what is on the painting line, banal I know but to paraphrase Douglas Adams most of what we are actually saying is “I am alive and so are you”. This is important stuff and as I move along my finite timeline I often wonder who will be with me as I travel and who will I loose along the way.
Don Featherstone was a remarkable man but I think his greatest achievement was to help create a hobby that allows grown men to play with toys and have a laugh. He passed on at the age of 95 and I believe that he was active until his late 80’s. I think having such a great pastime helped, and I hope to replicate that.