“I grow old . . . I grow old . . . I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.“ T.S.Eliot wrote these lines of “The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” when he was just 31 years old. I did roll up my jeans when I was a twen,
but later I changed into business suits, and in the last few years I wore in Thailand those shapeless acetat trousers, one can buy for 90 baht at market stalls. They are airy and cover the whole length of the leg, which I think appropriate. I
feel annoyed by those aging beer bellies who run around in shorts exposing their sunburnt hairy legs. Who would try to enter an exclusive night club in this attire? And isn’t Downtown Pattaya a kind of Day- and Night-Club?
I never perceived aging as a problem for my person. While I collected years, in my mind I was still driven by the same eagerness and curiosity that motivated me when young. Nothing important had changed. I was as young as I felt. I never got up in the middle of the night to stop all clocks.
The disenchantment came last week when I browsed the internet and suddenly discovered that some bookworms were offering as a second hand sale my novel “Bitter Yak Milk” that had been printed 57 years ago. Wow! Fifty seven years, that was more than the whole lifespan of Shakespeare or Beethoven. And those 57 years were only the years of my adult life. Deeply shocked I looked into the whirling maelstrom of time, from which nobody can escape, regardless how young he feels.
At the same internet session I encountered a website called “Death Clock”. There you enter your personal data and the computer calculates how long you still have to live. I followed the instructions of this program and was informed that I had already died in April 2008. Well, if I had outwitted my life expectancy by four years I had a good Karma, but I could not be as young as I felt.
Had I cheated myself by not realizing how old I became? I must confess that warning signposts were posted all along my way down to the maelstrom. But I did not recognize that they concerned me. Step for step I lost some of my stamina, but I always adapted to the changed situation, and I felt fine with it.
In my Forties and Fifties I loved to climb volcanoes and swim long distances in the South China Sea. But when I passed 60 the mountains became too steep to climb and the water to viscous for swimming. So what? I still could drive a sports car up to high places. In Austria the Grossglockner High Alpine Road winds to an altitude of 2500 meters, from where you look down on a majestic glacier. In California the road from Big Bear Lake to Palm Springs even tops more than 2600 meters, passing all the climate zones from Alpine to the Desert.
The next recess came with my 65th birthday. Until then I had been obsessed with the allure of women. I could make love for an eternity if my partner did concur. (Following Nietzsche’s “Woe speaks go, but all lust wants eternity. Deep deep eternity”). It was like a religious ceremony for me, which satisfied all my longings. But when I turned 65 within a few weeks all my libido evaporated completely. I no longer felt challenged when I met fascinating women. And this happened just when I was moving to Thailand which delivers some of the most beautiful and most available women of the world. So what? I could be proud not to play the ridiculous role of an old fart who chased girls two generations younger than him.
I came too late to Thailand to be involved in this kind of generation mix. Did I miss something? I had expected to enjoy an active love life for twenty years more – like Picasso. But I was not disappointed. I have wonderful memories. All those hours of happiness I found in the embrace of women when I was younger still warm my present days. And I won time to go after other important tasks like writing more novels. Or to research what made NATO volunteer into attacking foreign countries with wars of aggression.
There was only one serious disadvantage to this development of a more spiritual lifestyle. I did no longer use the muscles of my back as much as needed. I became aware of this, when I had trouble keeping the balance as I climbed out of the swimming pool. And now it is too late to rebuild those shrunken muscles. So what? In the future I still can sit in a wheelchair and browse the internet for “stickmanbangkok.com”, enjoying what my favourite authors write.
Thailand has always been there to provide for those who perhaps missed out along the way, or want to fill their boots later in life. I do wonder how much longer the Thailand option will exist though…