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Time – and coming to terms with it

Yesterday the media was running a story about the results of a survey commissioned by housing finance specialist Homewise. Apart from a worrying general conclusion that over 10% of participant Over-60 retirees were dissatisfied with their lives, financial worries and/or ‘a sense of not having enough to get by’ was apparently the leading grievance, with loneliness and ‘not having family members nearby’ coming closely behind.

See here – from the relevant article as posted today upon the website of – THE DAILY MAIL

I was intrigued to learn that as many as 25% of those who were dissatisfied with their lives listed lack of sex as the cause. This finding may bring a smile – or indeed a sneer of distaste and/or ‘too much information!’ – to the lips of Rust readers aged forty or under, but it leaves me puzzled on a number of counts.

First and foremost, of course, is the fall-back position that, if someone (irrespective of their age) is becoming unhappy about anything – whether it be a lack of sex, money or even a purpose in life generally – then why don’t they get out there and do something about it?

Pardon me for being weird, or coming from left-field, or being out of tune with the great British majority, but – as an Over-60 myself – I’m a firm believer in the view that the human race generally needs to grow up (or is it ‘wake up and/or smell the coffee’?) in terms of coming to terms with the realities of life, and most particularly the vagaries and vicissitudes that comes with the process of ageing.

I acknowledge that this is damned hard, almost counter-intuitive, because it is instinctive for all species of animal and fish – if not plants and other items for all I know – to ‘live in the moment’. No matter how intelligent or self-aware we may be, we also possess an inner certainty/delusion that we are not only permanently physically about the age of twenty-one but also a pronounced conceit that we are immortal. These convictions underpin both our paths through life and our friendships, sexual relationships, hobbies, interests, choices of music and lifestyle decisions.

Inevitably, however, we suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and the passage of Time.

gorwing oldWe get sports injuries, some of them serious, and/or we pick up medical conditions, even suffer traumas e.g. get knocked down by cars, or contract cancer and/or other life-threatening diseases. Stuff happens. And yet, even if we survive all those and indeed get off relatively lightly in out early years of maturity and then middle-age, sooner or later we will reach the stage of old age in which muscles sag or wither, bits fall off, ‘senior’ conditions come to afflict us and yes, we eventually begin the journey down the slope of decline to senility and decrepitude. Some of us even die off. My aged father has never been slow to point out that – as the years have gone by – he first found the proportion of his outings attributable to formal occasions relating to the deaths of friends and acquaintances grew exponentially …. and then later gradually eased off the longer he survived because, like all ancients, he’s an involuntary contestant in a longevity version of the traditional ‘Ten Green Bottles’ ditty as, one by one, the participants all fall off their individual perches.

Yesterday my old mucker Simon called round to pick me up for an outing and by chance this subject came up.

He’s had his own share of tribulation – over a recent eighteen-month period he suffered no fewer than thirteen instances of bereavement of people close to him, including his own sister, both his parents, three close work colleagues and sundry other family or personal friends and relations. Despite his resolutely zany and cheerful approach to life and his strong religious faith, the sheer relentless intensity of the experience had eventually caused him to hold his hand up and seek medical help. Fair play to him that he talks about this openly whenever the topic of mental pressure, depression or ‘inability to cope’ ever comes up in conversation.

We soon agreed my basic premise – i.e. the irony that mortality is probably the one aspect of life that human beings have most trouble coming to terms with. Simon went further in suggesting that – save when medical circumstances, e.g. life-threatening diseases, intervene – mortality is the one topic that people never think about (in relation to themselves) at all.

He’s right of course. The course of day-to-day living in the entire human world is based upon the false presumption that life is never-ending. In other words, although intellectually and rationally we’re aware that it isn’t, inside we still operate in our daily existence as if it is. ‘Getting by’ is just easier that way.

A001_C018_0921CYIn the real world first our grandparents … and then parents … drop off this mortal coil, but all the while – even as the signs of our own ageing become first mildly, and then later glaringly, apparent – we’re still carry on living as if we’re permanently thirty-five (absolute top whack). At least, until we suddenly wake up to the fact we’re sixty-five or even seventy-five … when nobody is more surprised at this development than we are!

Following that digression, I return to the topic of the day. The fact is that the human sex drive is inevitably strongest when we are young. It may vary up and down a bit as we age, or medical circumstances, or stress, or other things, intervene … and eventually – for most of us – it eventually tails off. There’s not much that can be done about it (well, okay, let’s leave Viagra and/or its female equivalent(s) out of this).

Frankly, I was pretty sure that – when I got there – one of the plusses of old age would be the gradual decline of one’s sex drive. Friendships are one thing, but sexual relationships have the general tendency (at least in my experience) to get complicated and/or difficult somewhere along the line. Sometimes getting out of one and then into another one … or even just getting out of one so that you can live alone and free … can be a process convoluted and fraught. I kind of figured that when I reached old age I’d leave all those complications – well most of them – behind … and I was looking forward to it.

Lastly, another media story I spotted this week may bring some succour, relief – or even a new lease of life – to those Over-60s among us who are complaining about lack of sex.

robotFollowing hard upon a great swathe of recent developments in the fields of robotics and AI (‘artificial intelligence’) seemingly promising that in the brave new world of the 21st Century we shall soon all be living with our own customised and highly-advanced sex toy robots of enviable sophistication … that is, in preference to anything so messy, complicated and aggravating as actually having a sexual relationship with another person of whatever sexual persuasion and interests we have actually managed to meet for real … comes breaking news from the world of Virtual Reality.

[I’m making that statement with commendable assertiveness despite the fact that I’m a little hazy on what exactly Virtual Reality is. I’m assuming that it’s where you don a large set of what look like box-shaped sunglasses which, combined with a computer or electronic gaming system, enable you to ‘experience’ what appears to the eye and brain – both of which may have had to have been ‘tricked’ by the delicate intricacies of the technology – to be a ‘real life (3-D)’ situation. My apologies if I’m wrong on this – and Rust readers are welcome to write to me c/o this website and enlighten me if I am.]

See here for a report on this as posted today upon the website of THE DAILY MAIL

The one question I would like to pose to the inventors of this latest technology – which allegedly will allow one to have Virtual Reality sex with real people – is whether they actually have to be people that you know. Or not.

The way my mind was working was this. These days I don’t know many people with whom I’d want to have sex. Hell, I don’t know many people, period. And I’m fine with that.

But – if I wanted to have sex with a real person – with this new Virtual Reality system do I actually have to find a real person with whom to ‘do the business’?

Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson

Could I use it instead to arrange to have sex with a real-life person that I don’t know?

Like a famous movie actress, for example? And maybe not a current famous movie actress either – I don’t go to the movies at all these days, or even watch TV dramas etc. too often, so I don’t know many actresses below the age of fifty anyway. Well, okay, Scarlet Johansson and Keira Knightley, maybe, but few beyond those two …

Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren

I was thinking more perhaps of a famous movie actress or two from a decade (or four) ago … c’mon guys, you know the sort of ladies I’m referring to … who are maybe still alive but on the wrong side of seventy-five now.

And there’s one more thing.

Would this new Virtual Reality system be able to render things do that, instead of having sex with real people as they are now, could it not be organised say so that I could have sex with them now, but with them as they were when they were … oh, let’s just say between 28 and 40?


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About Oliver Fortune

A doctor formerly specialising in sexual health, Oliver has written widely on matters relating to sex, relationships and counselling. He is divorced and has one daughter. He is a keen skier and mountain biker. More Posts