Washed Up, by Sarah Juggins, April 19, 2016

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This time of year is always a joy. The sun is beginning to make regular appearances, gardens, hedgerows and meadows are becoming busy with life, birds have rediscovered their voices and everyone seems to be happier. Walking around the streets of Lynn, there is colour and cheer, which is a million miles from the grey and gloom of the winter months.

Which is why I couldn’t understand the melancholy that overcame me the other day. There I was, on a glorious Good Friday, walking along a path and generally feeling euphoric because I didn’t need a pair of gloves and a scarf, when a wave of sadness just hit me over the head.

It was only later that I realised that the emotion was one of impending loss. It suddenly struck me that I am moving into a time that is euphemistically titled ‘the autumn years’ and, while I might feel fit and healthy right now, that is a state that will not last for ever. Sitting alongside this emotion was one of wastefulness. For years my eyesight, hearing and mobility have been tip top and I have taken it all for granted. Now, just as I am learning to appreciate the difference between a brambling and a chaffinch or how to distinguish the call of a skylark or to pick out the boom of a bittern, those senses will inevitably and inexorably leave me.

It is the same with health. For years I have run, cycled and generally bustled my way around, but as arthritis creeps into one foot, I sense that this is the start of a (hopefully long) decline. Where, just a year ago, I could trip out a 10 kilometre run with the best of them, now I have to consider whether running today will mean a painful tomorrow.

However, before you all start playing an imaginary violin or start sobbing into your morning tea, I have to say this is only a very temporary blue moment. When you hit your 40s, there is no doubt that you do start to take stock of life and mortality moves into much sharper focus, but there are so many plus sides. These may be generalisations, but in our middle age we are more self confident, generally more affluent and more knowledgable/experienced.

And we must remember that being young is rarely as stress-free, nor being older as wretched, as many stereotypes would have us believe. We know from experience that we are not invariably happy and beautiful when we are young, so why should we believe that these attributes are immediately reversed when we hit 40 or 50? As I can testify following my momentary blue period on Good Friday, states of mind and the conditions of our lives are permanently in flux, at every stage of life, young as well as old.