Some of our more meticulous readers may be irritated that an important word in this blog can appear in two forms: we refer to ageing and aging. According to Wikipedia, in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK and Ireland, ageing is more common than aging; in Canada and the US, aging is more common.
In general, given my heritage, I will be using ageing but will follow the Style Guide for Wikipedia
Consistency within articles
Although Wikipedia favors no variety of English, within a given article the conventions of one particular variety should be followed consistently. The exceptions are:
- quotations (do not alter the quotation to match the variety used in the main text);
- proper names (use the original spelling, for example United States Department of Defense and Australian Defence Force);
- titles of works such as books, films, or songs (use the spelling of the edition consulted); and
- explicit comparisons of varieties of English.
Readers should not be concerned about any inconsistencies, since I find the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) a useful reminder, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”
Ageing = Improving As With Cheese And Wine
Although ageing sometimes seems to have negative connotations, in fact it has some more positive attributes. The finest cheese-makers and vintners spend a great deal of time, effort and money in bringing their products to the best possible quality before serving them to their discerning customers.
For we humans, provided we are willing to spend a little effort, ageing can be a positive process. Our skills, knowledge and experience will be constantly growing. A gentle exercise regime will ensure that our flexibility and strength will be only a little diminished. Perhaps most significantly with our children grown-up and leaving the nest, our financial resources may well be increased and allow us to invest in new endeavours.
Ageing and the Age of Opportunity
Many will of course hear ageing and think that means reaching old age and reduced capabilities. Even describing this phase of our lives as the Golden Age seems like putting lipstick on the pig. It seems to assume that this is a lesser time of our lives after completing the ‘most productive years’ of ‘active living’.
These popular views can be completely false for many folk who are ageing. Instead they are moving into a second phase of their lives with more positives than negatives. An appropriate title for this might well be the Age of Opportunity. That same title has been used for a parenting book on teenagers, but in practice seniors have many more opportunities than teenagers, if they choose to take them.
If the Age of Opportunity is a suitable descriptor of this second phase, rather than old age, when does this Age of Opportunity start. It clearly can be different for different people. It often will start at retirement, although increasingly people are taking early retirement to allow them to pursue a second career. The age at which this Age of Opportunity starts will be discussed in a later article.