I recently was confronted by my 61st birthday. This means that here in Australia I can get a ‘Seniors Card’, which, among other things, will allow me virtually unlimited use of public transport — trains, ferries, and buses — for a couple of bucks a day. So I could take the train up to Newcastle or down to Woollongong for lunch at the taxpayers’ expense should the urge take me, but I assure you it won’t.

Frankly, give or take the odd price concession, I can see no merit in being over 60 other than being lucky enough to reach this age when many are not so fortunate.

In the same way many manufacturers, (car and whitegoods companies in particular), have perfected the art of designing products that magically begin to break down at around 10 years of age, Nature has contrived to design the human body to begin breaking down at around 60. There seems no rational reason for this. You go to bed feeling fine and wake in the morning with a leg that won’t work, or some ache or pain that has no reason for being.

Others of a similar vintage, amused and empathetic, are quick to recommend all manner of remedies for such health issues, from the curious to the absurd; but these often require to you to give up things you love — in my case coffee and spicy food.

Call me old-fashioned but I’d rather die eating Laska than live chewing cardboard.

Nevertheless, urged on by those who know more than I do about such things, I swallow fish oil and magnesium and glucosamine, and mix green gunk into a drink to get my pH balance right and so on.

Then, as so often happens, I recently read in the paper how recent tests somewhere in the world showed that many popular health alternatives don’t make a blind bit of difference. It’s all homeopathic mumbo-jumbo apparently. Luckily, one of the benefits of having been around for a while is that I know if I wait another month or so, new research will contend otherwise.

So, for now, I persist with the natural remedies and have even sentenced myself to a year’s gym membership, accepting that while nothing will actually cure aging, I can at least go down fighting.

Which brings me to the real point of this little ramble:

At an age where I should be thinking of kicking back and taking life easy, my mind seems determined to throw up ideas I’m driven to pursue. I’ve just returned to Sydney, after two months wandering the world, with a long list of projects I want to embark upon.

Many of these things would be challenging enough were I young and working in buoyant and active markets. But the reality is I’m no spring chicken and my chosen projects involve difficult markets that are in state of flux if not decimated completely.

I want to record and release a new CD even though the music business is stuffed. (You’ll be able to hear demos of some of these new songs on this website in the next few months).

I want to publish a couple of books I’ve written, even though I’m well aware the publishing business is staggering and uncertain even for established authors.

I want to get involved in a movie or mini-series project luck has placed before me even though I know the movie business is fickle and uncertain by any measure.

And, believe it or not, I’m going to start painting again with a view to having an exhibition within the next two years — even though I’m well aware the words ‘starving’ and ‘artist’ go hand in hand.

As if all this weren’t enough to chew on, I’ve also gotten myself involved in a couple of other ambitious ‘long-shot’ ventures that must overcome almost insurmountable difficulties before they can hope to succeed.

To do any of these things at any stage of life would be a challenge. To do so at 61 is akin to swimming upstream. But what can I do? These mountains are there and I’m driven to climb them.

Ah well, at least I won’t die of boredom.

John Hanlon
8/11/2010