blogcutter ([personal profile] blogcutter) wrote2017-01-01 03:40 pm
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As we enter 2017...

... and with this being Canada's sesquicentennial year, there will no doubt be plenty of occasions for looking back on 1967, and predicting what the next 50 or 100 years and beyond will bring. I didn't go out to any New Year's Eve celebrations, but I did watch a few minutes of the Parliament Hill fireworks on CBC at midnight. Looked like there was a good turnout and spectacular display, despite the rather snowy conditions!

I recently realized to my surprise and shock that I've now been retired for over 7 years. Where does the time go? Mind you, I think most of us are quite familiar with the phenomenon of time (seemingly) speeding up as you get older. But in my case at least, my general perceptions of times gone by seem to be changing, depending on whether we're talking recent past, long-ago past, or something in between. When I recall something that happened, say, two years ago, it feels as if it must have been LONGER ago than that - say, four or five years back. But if I'm recalling something that happened 20 or 25 years ago, it feels as if it was only perhaps 7 or 8 years ago. It's all a bit odd and perplexing to me.

One thing I did learn in one of my Learning in Retirement courses last fall (entitled "The Brain and the Mind: The Neuropsychology of being human") is that so-called "working memory" (kind of like the mind's buffer, if I understood correctly) tends to decline slightly with age. I guess that might account for why, for example, I tend not to instantly recall the phone numbers, postal codes, and so on, of people I'm regularly in touch with. It's a bit distressing, especially since at one time I used to have an excellent memory for such things. Like many people my age, I suspect, the thought of perhaps one day descending into dementia absolutely terrifies me. I guess all I can really do is try to keep reasonably healthy and active, both physically and mentally.

While I can't really control any rogue genetic factors that might be working against me (or FOR me, for that matter!) I do have to wonder about the environment we live in these days, and the extent to which it's age-friendly or age-inimical; or friendly or unfriendly vis-a-vis my own particular personality or world view.

As far as our brain's relationship to typing versus writing stuff with pen or pencil and paper, there does seem to be some persuasive evidence out there that in the latter case, humans tend to remember better what they've physically written in their own handwriting, as opposed to typing it. What about texting and emojis and social media? I'll tell you one thing (I've likely written it several times before in this blog and then promptly forgotten!!) - the tiny little keys on a cell phone are NOT age-friendly if you have vision problems and/or arthritic fingers.

As far as getting things accomplished, I definitely feel I work better with reasonably-sized blocks or chunks of time. But unfortunately the modern world doesn't tend to work that way! It's almost as if ADHD is the new expected norm of our society and I don't mean just for kids! Certainly I do try to make use of little bits of time here and there (some of which I can anticipate, like if I'm in a doctor's waiting room, and some of which is the gift of "found time" - when I wake up early, or get out of a meeting early, or whatever) and there's also nothing wrong with just zoning out for a bit! But surely there's still a role for the longer attention span, or for the luxury of being able to properly focus on something.

I remember in one of my jobs, a co-worker would regularly lament (probably in reaction to yet another ill-advised bureaucratic decision), "They just don't think it through!" This, by the way, was in the early 1980s, and I think it's probably doubly or triply true now! I'm not saying that the only way to think anything through is to sit by yourself with a pen and pad of paper for hours - clearly that depends on what you're doing, what your preferred learning style is, and so forth.

But anyway, this started out as a kind of welcome to 2017 and ironically, I seem to be losing my train of thought! Later this week, or at least some time during January, I may tackle some version of the Q&As I've been doing over the past few years, and perhaps discuss things like goals and bucket lists and resolutions.

One thing before I go, though. Not to be overly negative or anything, but I really think if you're serious about making plans, goals and resolutions, you (and by "you" I guess I really mean me, or people in general) need to state not just what you WILL do but what you WON'T do, or what you'll stop doing. That could of course be taken to ridiculous extremes (as in "I won't go skydiving" or "I won't win millions in the lottery" or whatever); the point I'm trying to make is that there are only so many hours in the day and years in a lifetime, so if I'm going to work towards achieving certain things, I may have to divest myself of other commitments (for example, I plan to scale back a bit on what I'm currently doing for Ex Libris and Friends of Library & Archives Canada).

So hello there, 2017! Stay tuned.