I often, rightly or wrongly, define myself by my work. This is because I have always loved both the creativity of my work but also the positive impact I have seen it have on those around me.
When I was a teenager, I sat at my desk, used my "Amiga 1200" computer, I digitally painted, I animated and I typed... all night, often heading to bed at 3 or 4am. The next day I would go kayaking, cycling miles or Scouting.
In my very early 20s I can remember working on a book with HarperCollins Publishers, I wrote on my keyboard, laying in bed on my first laptop, a MacBook Pro from 2003, mostly laying on my front or on my back with my laptop balanced on my chest. Again working to 3am-ish, then get up at 7am, cycle the 20 miles to my the studio in croydon, work there on client consulting work, then cycle the 25miles into central London, meet friends, have a late night and head home... to work late.
Late 20s, I owned a restaurant and small holding... equal amounts of work... I wrote my first fiction book in 2008, and held five exhibitions of artwork in 2009, together with a speech before the UK government on LGBT+ rights and a Human Rights for young people talk at the UN... All wrote, on a MacBook Air, I had stopped cycling due to moving out of London, but I hiked, I climbed mountains and I sailed. I can remember writing the speeches while balancing my laptop on my knee in a field in the Preselli Hills late one early summer evening.
My 30s, less writing, less painting, more "adventure work". I was up at 5am travelling to universities to deliver lectures on equality. I sailed literally to the ends of the earth, painting and writing with my drawing board balanced on a short wooden board, my laptop, an apple iPad, constantly moving with the motion of the small sailing boat. My wrists keeping up with the rise and fall of tide. Late nights spent reading not working, bed by 2am.
Now, in my 40s, I struggle to be awake by 8am, I spend an hour trying to find my glasses, my laptop, an MacBook Pro again is upstairs permanently attached to the desk, waiting to be turned on. My knees scream out in pain as I walk up the stairs. My wrists sore at the thought of more typing. My eyes sore from screen use throughout the day. I still walk, but with joint and knee pain slowing progress. The odd weekend short paddle with the kids in a kayak. I garden, on my allotment, slowly, wrists, arms and knees complain about it, this stops me, I pause, and then carry on. By 6pm I've stopped work and started scouting, more typing, more screen time. by 9pm I'm ready for bed and by 11am I'm asleep.
We all hold stigmas about getting old, and as a buddhist myself I must always remind myself. "Impermanence is definitely 'a thing'." My work pattern, my life experience has changed. It will change again.
For me I feel sadness that my speed of thought has gone up but my speed of typing has slowed. On days when I am tired, I feel regret at the paintings not painted, the speeches not spoken, I must come to terms with my identity of the current self. I must 'come out' to myself, to the fact I am disabled.
This isn't limiting, it is potentially liberating. What holds me back is my own pride, feed by the expectation bias of society. If I use a walking stick, I regain ten years of mobility and can walk faster; further; with confidence. If I listen to my body and slow down when needed I gain more days of productivity. But the image of the walking stick is not a kind one. I feel when I use it, I am ignored, it is like a cloaking device has gone up and people simply no longer see you. I've seen this with my friends in wheelchairs in the past and the society problem with mobility and disability is getting worse.
I am fortunate to be someone with 'identities'. An artist; writer; buddhist; equalities consultant; activist; father; gay; deaf; disabled; astronomer; scout leader; and more.... These always have worked as my 'team' and informed me on how to help others. Now I need to mature all of these view points to account for 'age', a process we who have the privilege to live past 40 and beyond must do.
Impermanence is definitely 'a thing'. Over time impermanence is to become more human, to travel through more barriers and see others do the same. Disability, progressive or sudden is a part of the human experience.
I will be using my walking stick with pride, not to make it 'visible' or to 'campaign' but because it makes me feel younger! I live now in the Brecon Beacons, walking stick in hand, painting-set and writing book in my backpack, bring me that next mountainous hike!