Aging and New Age Thoughts: A Conversation With Ian Brown
IAN BROWN SHORTLISTED
2016 RBC TAYLOR PRIZE
Regrets? For journalist Ian Brown there are a few but not for the big things. Ian regrets the book not read, should he read three long classics or just the one he knows he will enjoy, does he have enough time to finish?
Face to face Brown is the kind of man you just want to be friends with; smart, funny, educated and able to hold his own in a conversation. His takes on life have you laughing and thinking at the same time just as they do in his recent memoir 'Sixty,' shortlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize.
In Sixty Ian kept a journal of his 60th year with a touching honesty that left no wart untouched. Baring his soul was powerful and in many ways liberating for him giving him an outlet to vent all of his emotions of a mentally challenging year. Putting words to paper is what writers do but baring your soul can be like walking into a minefield.
Catching a bite at Fresh and Wild during a lunch time interview Ian Brown is reflective of his life with biting humour. There's something about looking into the mirror feeling like a young man and being shocked that the image staring back at you is old. The mirror tells only one side of the story, Ian rounds that story out with his personal observations.
Chatting asIan fueled up for a busy end of the week and beginning of whirlwind events for the RBC Taylor Prize (Sixty is a finalist) we touched on those unspoken topics that come with getting a little longer in the tooth like forgetting your keys or using hair gel as facial cleanser.
One of the issues we face as we get older is that our parents are aging at the same time. After his mother died Ian was able to build a stronger relationship with his father. While some may find caring for a parent when their bodies begin to fail Ian is grateful for those moments where father and son grew closer. In thoughtful reflection Ian mused that the act of cleaning up his father as he grew frailer left him feeling like time had reversed but those moments were some of the most touching memories that he has.
More aware of fitness Ian admits he starts his day off with 'boring' exercise with a sheepish grin. It's a way to beat back the clock and stay young. Ian talks about how we are always aging, our brains lose cells early on, our bones get dusty by the time we hit 40- but the process doesn't catch up to us mentally until later. Then out of the blue one day we see this old person in the mirror and realize that those things we wanted to do but put off for later just might not ever get done.
As he ages Ian is less likely to keep his thoughts to himself, poking fun at the little changes in daily life as he ages. At times he starts off with saying that his ideas may be a might New Age, but his thoughts are what others internalize and don't have the courage to say out loud. His honesty is refreshing in a world that glorifies youth making the feat of getting older (and looking older) almost a criminal offense.
Don't worry though that Ian is going to become a grouchy old man. Any one who has a bio of Dylan on his work desk isn't going down for the count any time soon. He has more stories to get out for the Globe & Mail. And that's a good thing for us all!
By KJ Mullins