I’ve been doing some research on the surge of vitality and energy which I’ve been calling Indian Summer, but not getting very far. From what I can see, the people writing about it (especially those suggesting Fun Activities) are younger and haven’t experienced it, and I suspect most of those who are experiencing it are either successfully putting it to work, or quite rattled by their unexpected feelings of restless boredom. I’m in the latter group. Boredom is driving me nuts, but so is the lack of purpose. I know I want to be out there doing much more, but I can’t be bothered with what’s on offer . . .
What’s round and bites? A vicious circle.
I actually have a theory about this unexpected energy boost, based on this being the first time in our history that people are hitting late middle age without being knee-deep in grandchildren. No, hear me out. Until around 1960 the average woman was having babies fairly constantly, unless she abstained from all reproductive activity, between adolescence and menopause. Soon after menopause, huge surge of renewed energy, because now she was urgently needed by her offspring who were themselves increasingly drowning in lively children, active toddlers, one in the arms and one on the way. Her man, make no mistake, was as desperately needed by the harassed next generation, and had his own ability surge at a time when modern society tells us we have nothing left to offer.
The Pill, and effective contraception generally, changed the face of families forever. The average family, across the board, became 1.8 children, born at planned intervals in the seventies, eighties and nineties. That generation was raised to think extending schooling as far as possible was essential, which delayed the producing of grandchildren.
No-one told our bodies that everything had changed. Here we are, buzzing with renewed vigour, and – oh.
All that energy! How dull it is to pause, to make an end, to rust unburnished, not to shine in use! (Ulysses, Lord Tennyson)
Travel. Study. Paint. Write. Get restless, get bored, get stressed, fret, fume, rebel against being put out to grass or sidelined, restlessly start new lives.
I wrote a book (No Place Like Place) where future planets are initially colonised by the active energetic fifty-or-sixty-somethings and that’s probably the best solution, but we’re a bit stuck for something purposeful until those colonist-needing planets are, well, even discovered.
I want to be out there doing something amazing and challenging and yes, sorry, awesome, which will need every ounce of experience and learning accumulated over the last fifty-something years. I want to travel, I want to explore, I want to make every year, every hour, count. Tick tock. It’s frankly annoying me that my characters at Grasshopper Lawns are having more fun than I am!
So if anyone can suggest something a little more challenging than rambles and get-togethers and over-50 websites with photos of happy smiling people in their seventies who I suspect have been glued to their seats and told to look pleased with their lot, that would be very nice.