...if I let it.
Thursday I saw a name on NRO that surprised me a good deal: Ursula K. LeGuin. I stopped reading her work back in the mid-'90s, because the increasing PC-ish content got on my nerves--and I was still a self-proclaimed liberal at the time, who would have agreed with much of it! Mrs. LeGuin's name was there because she was being interviewed about her new novel, Lavinia. In it she said that, not having touched Latin since she studied it in high school, she decided, in her seventies, to take it up again. And she did and she was able, "with difficulty", to read the Aeneid in the original.
Now that is awesome. And I mean that in the older sense of inspiring awe, not in some early mid-'80s slang way. Mrs. LeGuin impressed the heck out of me when she said that. The ability to learn second languages--something any child who isn't actually in the sub-basement of human intelligence levels can do without apparent effort--famously gets harder as we get older. And our memory gets less retentive in middle age, so that we have to work much harder to hold onto something new than we did in our youth. Not many people take up language study after they get old. Especially not a "dead" language with a reputation of being rather difficult.
Lately I've been focusing much too much on things I supposedly can't do or that are getting more difficult to do because I am old. At thirty-eight. Mrs. LeGuin makes me feel like a bit of a whinger (mental variety only; I have at least avoided annoying others with it.)
You'd think I would have learned my lesson from something that happened a few years ago: I came across something I'd written when I was twenty-nine, explaining that I could not start something that late in life because I would be at least thirty-two by the time I finished. Oh, the horror! I was thirty-four or thirty-five when I came across that and, guess what, I'd reached (and passed) the advanced old age of thirty-two even without doing that thing. The only choice had been between becoming a thirty-two year-old who had done that thing and becoming a thirty-two year old who had not done that thing.
Something to think about as I grow closer to what I think of as Shirley Valentine age (forty-two).