01 Sep '19

The art of growing old

door Nathalie Dirix
Now that Jan Hautekiet and Peter Vandermeersch have both reached a turning point in their lives, this is an ideal opportunity to talk to them about what letting go and getting older does to a person.

Hautekiet: ‘A positive consequence of getting older is that you have a better chance of keeping things in perspective in relation to yourself, whereas young people tend to see themselves as being the centre of the world. Only to discover just how illusory this idea really is as the years go by. Once you realise that, you start to take yourself less seriously and ageing becomes a lot easier to cope with.’ Vandermeersch: ‘Have I developed a veneer of callousness with age? No, I’d even say that I’ve become more emotional. Maybe that’s because you also become more selective in the feelings you allow yourself to entertain. So any sorrow you permit yourself to experience is felt all the more intensely. However, you do develop a thicker skin over the years and you are more able to deal with criticism. But a song by Neil Young or the birth of a grandchild can still move me. Even more than in the past.’