First written on 24 October on facebook:
It has been wonderful to talk with a friend about the losses of aging (as opposed to old age). As we age, we all suffer neuro degeneration. I am often asked how, as someone who is dyslexic and dyspraxic, I was able to write a PhD thesis. I usually lie, and say it is just an essay you have three years to write. The truth is, my brain was twenty years younger. At 45, I increasingly experience more symptoms of Aspergers (my daugher is an Aspie). This is not because I am becoming more autistic, but because I have become less able to compensate as my brain ages. The effect of neuro degeneration, which everyone experiences, is greater where there are underlying conditions we have been fighting. (I wonder whether this in part accounts for ‘late’ diagnoses of Aspergers, such as that of Chris Packham in his mid-forties.) But it is part of aging for all of us. For me, it is a greater loss than physical fitness, and a genuine grieving. Acceptance and self-compassion are key in this season of life—mindfulness has much to offer here. But this is also a useful insight as one who serves a community of people who are aging, including many middle-aged men. I wonder whether there are others as disoriented by such grief—very real, even if no-one has died—and whether we might go on this journey together?