I will never become accustomed to the befuddling dimensions of time. More specifically, its passing.
Like many people I feel quite unable to register ageing internally – and it’s there, inside, where I’m feeling young, that mind tricks me and no doubt leads me to at least understand theories of duality. My consciousness does not refuse age, it does not resist age, it simply does not register age as a calibration of self. Its truth is that of a subtle ‘body’ resistant to the attrition and damage and the slow entropy of our physical bodies.
So the mental/emotional levels of consciousness that cross-reference me to create my assumptions of identity are quite unreliable – but they feel profoundly true! And while the somatic aspect of ageing is obvious its truth feels like a lie. Then what is consciousness? This question is now being studied, again, not by philosophers or psychiatrists, but by neurologists and biologists – it is a new, sexy field for them. Some of these studies are now referred to as The Hard Question. The perception of youth within the ageing human is one of the conundrums they will no doubt look at. Clearly, there is a basic, pragmatic advantage to feeling young: it means not feeling old. The confidence and the focus this provides is obvious. The actual experience of it is less straightforward and may (for example) play out in equal parts attractive and delusionary, leading to behaviours that are bracing, and admirable, to others which are comic, tiresome or even dangerous. So be our follies.
I am as much the 23 year old sitting with his dog as I am the man writing this blog so many decades later. I can still feel the tactile satisfaction of rolling a cigarette and the bliss of resting in the company of Tigger, my cross-bred labrador/red cloud kelpie companion. (He would live for a further 13 years and we were almost never apart.) I am convinced that I could run around the block with him (in those days without a leash).