BY Terry

08/01 Direct Link

There it is, written on the page. Sixty. As of yesterday, thatís my new number.

Sixty. To say it out loud, it begins to sound odd, the way any word does when you take it out of context and keep repeating it over and over.

Sixty. Or, written another way, 60.

When my father was the same age as I am now, sixty years and one day, he only had another seven years, one month and one day left before he dropped dead.

Sixty. Perhaps the biggest surprise for me has been how much Iím okay with being sixty.
08/02 Direct Link
I remember when I was younger, very much younger, trying to imagine what my life would be like In the Future. Back then, the future was unchartered territory where anything was possible, at least when I wasnít imagining it being cut horribly short in some nuclear holocaust. There was a sense of adventure; a bubbling belief that anything was possible. I would imagine another eighty years or more stretching ahead of me and in doing so Iíd find comfort, solace and reassurance. We all have to die one day, but at least that day was a long, long way away.
08/03 Direct Link
ďSixty? Did you say sixty?Ē

Iíve been getting this a lot. At first, I thought people were just being nice. Turns out that itís not just that. People are genuinely blown away by how young I look. I come from a good gene pool, I tell them. My mother remarried at 75. She always looked so much younger than she was. (Dad dropped dead at 67, but thatís another story.)

The truth is, I look after myself. I eat well. I swim. I do yoga. I donít smoke. I donít have a car. I walk everywhere.

Itís not rocket science.
08/04 Direct Link
Iíve decided Iím going to live to be a hundred and seven and a half.

On 25 December 2066 it will be one thousand years since the coronation of William the Conqueror and Iíve decided I want to watch the celebrations on TV.

I originally settled on being 107 but then I found out that he wasnít crowned until Christmas Day, so thatís why I need the extra few months.

When I tell people this, they all have a good laugh. What if there are no TVs around by then? I laugh too.

Nonetheless, it's good to have a goal.
08/05 Direct Link
Iím pretty content with my lot. Sure, there are things I wouldnít mind being different but on the whole, lifeís pretty good. My partner and I have been together for a little over 25 years and despite the occasional (and sometimes not so occasional) annoyances and disagreements, we still love each other. Indeed, weíre as solid as rock. We live in a nice house we designed and built for ourselves. I have a job I still love doing. Iím more productive as an artist now that I have ever been. Life is good and Iím grateful for what weíve achieved.
08/06 Direct Link
I donít think I really grew up until I hit 35. I operated in the adult world and was able to make adult decisions but emotionally I was all over the place. I had an enormous amount of emotional baggage and a tendency to hand power over to those people I became emotionally invested in. I sought my centre of gravity outside of myself, which is never a good thing. It took me many years to develop a sense of my own self-worth that was strong enough to allow myself to flourish in the way that I have done.
08/07 Direct Link
There are various reasons that explain why I used to be so emotionally vulnerable. When I was a lot younger I used to feel hard done by. I was always able to project an air of confidence and there were times when I genuinely felt confident. I was certainly no wimp. I embraced changes and made life choices that to all outward appearances seemed pretty gutsy, at least to my peers. And donít get me wrong. I enjoyed may successes and had some wonderful friendships before 35; nor did things magically change beyond that age, but it was a marker.
08/08 Direct Link
Deep down inside I always believed I was going to make it, even when I didnít. Who knows where this dogged self-belief came from but it was never far away. I think my early years growing up in an island community had a lot to do with it. My first ten years on the Isle of Wight were pretty idyllic, so much so that Iíve spent much of my life revisiting it and touching base with that bedrock of emotional security. My earliest memories are of being safe and secure and these memories have served me well over the years.
08/09 Direct Link
As a teacher, I have had the privilege of working with thousands of children over the years. I say privilege because thatís what it is. I am no stranger to the damage that adults can and do inflict upon young people and it is never lost on me the trust that people place in those of us who as adults work so closely with children. If there is one thing I have learnt over the years itís the power of the adult to impact upon the life of a child. It is, quite simply, the defining relationship of any society.
08/10 Direct Link
None of us are perfect and weíve all done things weíre not proud of. Whilst I had a pretty idyllic time growing up on the island, by the time the family moved to Australia I ended up finding myself on the receiving end of some pretty crap behaviour by some of the significant adults around me. I have no desire to go into details here. Iíve done that pretty well elsewhere. Suffice to say, my trust in adults was many times shaken to its core and it took a long, long time to re-establish that trust, not least with myself.
08/11 Direct Link
There are few things more powerful and life-affirming than a loving and trusting relationship between an adult and a child. Conversely, there are few things more damaging and soul-destroying than when such trust is either breached or not even present. Yes, we need love but love cannot take root and flourish when without trust. For the first ten years of my life I found myself in a trusting environment. The world was a friendly place.

ĎGive me the child until he is seven . . .í

I had until I was ten, or a little older in fact.

I had a fortunate childhood.
08/12 Direct Link
It was during my teens that I learnt to distrust adults. Up until then Iíd really liked them. But the discovery at the age of 14 that my father was a serial paedophile put an end to that, as did the appalling behaviour of other Ďtrustedí adults in my life, mostly men. Itís not an overstatement to say that my teen years were emotionally traumatic and the damage endured during these years continued to haunt me for many more. More distressingly, in learning to distrust the adults around me, I then found it increasingly difficult to trust the adult within.
08/13 Direct Link
Iíve been teaching off and on for nearly forty years. Iíve left to pursue other interests but Iíve always come back to it. Over the years Iíve come to appreciate that Iím a good artist but the one thing I know I excel at is teaching. Itís what I do best. And the thing I love most about the job (and love is not too strong a word) is establishing that sense of trust with young people and creating a safe environment where self-confidence and self-belief can take root and flourish; being the adult I needed when I was young.
08/14 Direct Link
I recently attended a school assembly where the little girls from Prep performed a dance routine in front of the whole junior school to the music of Earth, Wind and Fireís Boogie Woogie Wonderland. Down below the stage leading them on was a young male teacher, Matt, who had spent his lunchtimes teaching them the various dance moves. The look of pure joy on their faces and the look of pure delight on Mattís was priceless. At the end of it the whole school rose to a thumping applause.

Thatís what love and trust looks like. Thereís nothing like it.
08/15 Direct Link
The older I get, the more I am floored by the miracle of children. As a gay man I have never known what itís like to have my own children. Itís never been a source of regret, even though there have been times when Iíve wondered what it would be like. But working with very young children every day and having the privilege of listening to the way they talk and interact with each other I am often in awe of how much we as human beings absorb and learn so rapidly and in such a short period of time.
08/16 Direct Link
I teach art to children from the age of four through to eleven and twelve. For most of my career Iíve taught secondary age students but Iím happy now to see out the rest of my time with the little ones. I love their energy and their unbridled enthusiasm; their optimism and their infectious sense of humour. I jokingly say to people that I have the best job in the world but really, itís not a joke. I feel genuinely blessed to have found myself at this late stage in my career in the best possible place I could be.
08/17 Direct Link
It blows me away to think that some of the children I teach will live to see the twenty-second century. One of the things I really enjoy about getting older is the changing sense and appreciation of Time. When I think back to when I was much younger, it really doesnít seem that long ago. It also occurs to me that I experience the passing of time differently to those people who have children of their own. Iím not a parent or a grandparent. I donít have those labels that by their very definition place you in an age-related context.
08/18 Direct Link
I have a nephew who is 13 months older than me. We grew up together. He married young and had three children, then remarried and had another two. He is a father of five and a grandfather of eight and it probably wonít be long before he is a great grandfather. I canít even begin to imagine what that would be like. Wonderful no doubt but very different to my own experience of life and of myself. That said, I am myself an uncle, great uncle and great, great uncle to over 60 individuals, some of whom Iíve never met.
08/19 Direct Link
At sixty, I feel like Iíve made peace with my demons. We all have them; the things we donít like about ourselves or the things we feel are constantly holding us back. So many of mine have been in relation to the damaged child within. Please note that I say made peace, not exorcised. Iíve come to the conclusion that we never really exorcise our demons. They are as much a part of us as anything else in our lives. We all bear scars and these scars tell stories about where weíve been, but they donít have to define us.
08/20 Direct Link
Iíve tended to live my life in chapters which have often corresponded to the decades of my life. My first ten years were spent growing up on the Isle of Wight. My next ten years were largely spent growing up in Elizabeth, South Australia. The next ten years were spent living in Adelaide. My thirties saw me moving to Melbourne, then London, then back to Melbourne. In my forties I headed back to London again in my fifties I was back in Melbourne again. Each chapter has been defined by a major theme or focus distinguishing it from the others.
08/21 Direct Link
In recent years Iíve become a lot more focused on what I want to achieve in life. Three years ago, I decided I was going to set aside one hour a day to paint. Three years later Iím still doing so, albeit with a few catch-up hours on the weekend during busy weeks. Nonetheless, I always meet my target of seven hours a week. One year ago, I decided I was going to swim twice a week. One year on, Iíve never missed a swim. And every day I upload a Photo of the Day to Facebook. Every single day.
08/22 Direct Link
Life is busy and full of distractions. That said, even with a target age of one hundred and seven and a half, life is short and getting shorter. There is still a great deal I want to achieve. So, I have added a few new things to my commitment list. A minimum of fifteen minutes of piano practise a day; a minimum of ten pages of a book read a day and a minimum of three fifteen-minute yoga sessions a week.

We live in an age of perpetual distraction and sometimes, meaningful commitments need to be made and adhered to.
08/23 Direct Link
Regarding the piano, in my late teens I bought a piano, took piano lessons and got to Grade 3 level before letting it all go. Ever since, and even before, Iíve had an absolute love of the piano.

I have a girl in one of my Year 5 classes who has achieved Grade 8 on the piano. I am in awe of such ability at such a tender age. I listened to her perform the other day. It was utterly jaw-dropping and inspiring.

By the time I reach 70 I also intend to have achieved Grade 8 on the piano.
08/24 Direct Link
As for reading, itís something Iíve let slide in recent years. Life gets busy and itís easy to devalue the simple act of reading when there are so many other things to be going on with. And yet, time can be very elastic. Sometimes, the more you do, the more you can find the time to do other things. I love reading, but the procrastinator in me will often persuade me to put it off and put it off until I end up reading nothing of consequence at all. So thatís why Iíve made it a new priority in life.
08/25 Direct Link
As for reading, itís something Iíve let slide in recent years. Life gets busy and itís easy to devalue the simple act of reading when there are so many other things to be going on with. And yet, time can be very elastic. Sometimes, the more you do, the more you can find the time to do other things. I love reading, but the procrastinator in me will often persuade me to put it off and put it off until I end up reading nothing of consequence at all. So thatís why Iíve made it a new priority in life.
08/26 Direct Link
I watched an interview with Jane Fonda recently. She was talking, amongst other things, about being 80 years old and how she felt about her age. At one point the interviewer asked her whether she drank much these days and she said she didnít because it made her feel too groggy in the morning and she liked to enjoy the morning. ďAnd I donít have that many mornings left,Ē she added somewhat ruefully.

This is the thing about getting older. You begin to focus on your own mortality in a way thatís different, more urgent perhaps, than when youíre younger.
08/27 Direct Link
I would be lying if I said I didnít have those disorientating moments when I wake in the night with a sense of foreboding about whatís to come; that slow, or maybe not so slow journey into darkness from which we never return. I can fully appreciate why so many people seek solace, meaning or purpose in religion. Iíve certainly had my fair share of attempts. Ultimately however, I am as yet unable to fully embrace any particular religious viewpoint. All I know is the day will come when I realise that my life is finally drawing to an end.
08/28 Direct Link
I have reached an age where Iím clear in my own mind about the things I have control over and the things I donít. I long ago gave up worrying about losing my hair. Itís a process that is beyond my control. I certainly look after my teeth now; I only wish Iíd done so when I was younger. I canít slow the passing of the years but I can certainly look after and maintain the vehicle that keeps me on the planet by eating well, swimming regularly, doing yoga and walking as many miles as I do each day.
08/29 Direct Link
I can also maintain a young mindset. Working with children certainly helps with that. Itís hard to be around young folk and not have some of that youthful energy rub off on you. I have every intention of working until I am 70 and possibly beyond. Given that the youthful Head of Senior Art has just turned 68 and shows no sign of flagging tells me that this is not an unrealistic notion. I love my job. The money is good, too. But most importantly, I love working with kids and this in turn helps fuel my own artistic endeavours.
08/30 Direct Link
They say youíre only as old as you feel. A healthy body certainly helps maintain a healthy mind and a healthy mind helps promote a sense of well-being. So does gratitude. At the age of sixty I cannot help but feel incredibly grateful for where I find myself in life. I can look back on a life well-lived and look forward to whatever comes next. Itís about remaining open to what life has to offer, or serve up, or dish out. Shit happens. Itís not all smooth sailing. If it was, it wouldnít be real. It is what it is.
08/31 Direct Link
ďSixty? Did you say sixty?Ē

Yep! Thatís me. Itís been one hell of a journey so far and Iím not looking to check out anytime soon. Yes, the world is a mess right now. Yes, the news gets bleaker and more depressing by the hour. But there are children to teach and paintings to paint and books to read and dogs to walk and songs to sing and friends to be made and young girls called Greta to inspire a whole new generation to look up from their screens and pay attention to whatís going on and do something good . . .