Well, I’ve made it. I am now a State Enrolled Old Person. When I was in my twenties I never thought I would get to be this ancient, with a body and mind that are breaking down, and no longer always selflessly acting in my own long-term interests. I am starting to lose track – multiple sclerosis, blindness, and now prostate cancer. Each day is starting to bring its own bitter-sweet sunset.
I am a little scared of the future, which is a new sensation. In the past, a flight of steps meant a journey to a new place at the top; now I know steps go down as well as up. There are steps to the Thames in Wapping, where we were staying at the week-end. The steps go down to the River Thames where convicted pirates were taken to be executed and then left to hang to be washed by three tides. For the felon, these were the final steps.
We all totter down them eventually. Some go proud and defiant; some go with quiet acceptance; some go sobbing and kicking. Maybe, in our search for wisdom, it is possible to make that decision, a conscious decision as to how we will go down the steps to Execution Dock.
Whichever scenario I choose, it will not change the ending, but presumably it will change the way I live between now and the washing of those three tides.