Thursday, October 30, 2008

ewwwwwwwwwww. (age)

the scene: furniture woodshop. Two undergraduates are discussing faculty, starting with Professor Lothar Windels.

1: "I think he must be almost fifty, right?"

2: "Probably."

Overhearing, I stop and say

z: "I don't think he is at all. I don't think he is more than ten years older than me. Probably less. I bet about forty two or so."

1: "You're thirty two?"

z: "Thirty five."

2: "You're almost forty?!?!?! Eeeeewwwwwww!"

I almost said "Look you rotten goddamn kid, shut up!" but then thought that maybe railing against youth would not be the best approach. So I tried to explain as patiently and kindly as possible that actually, my thirties have been great so far, and that as hard as some times have been, I feel that my life gets better the longer I live it, and I sure as hell wouldn't want to be twenty again for anything in the world, so there.

They remain unnconvinced.

It is true, though. I don't think of myself as "almost forty" yet, but then that kind of designation is so relative. Maybe when I was twenty I would have thought that way. Probably would have. I vaguely remember being twenty and thinking that thirty was impossibly far off, that maybe I would never even be that old.

Now, I have a lot of good friends that are forty or damn near. Suits me fine.

Among the things that I like about getting older is the fact that I am mellowing a little. Maybe it is the yoga. Certainly it is the woodworking. I am learning to slow down, to be present. Yoda said about Luke at one point "Never his mind on where he was. What he was doing." I am trying to take a pointer from the Jedi master and be here. I am trying to be aware. Rather than looking always to the future, and comparing my work and life to other's, I am trying to be better about seeing and enjoying what is right here, just now, where I am.

It is not always easy. But it is almost always a good idea.

Just like in yoga, when we stop, close our eyes, and concetrate on our breathing, and on all of the little parts of the body, and what they are doing, I feel like sometimes it is good to do that in life. I have been trying to stop and think "what is happening, right now?"

This is something I certainly was not doing ever at 20. It concerns me, sometimes, the cult of youth. Which I guess is something that humans have been doing forever, it is nothing new. I just think it is especially irrelevant now, when the average life expectancy is in the neighboorhood of seventy years, and getting longer all the time. Sure am glad that the next fifty years of my life won't be spent pining for the first twenty.

"You're almost forty?" Yep I am. If the current trend continues, forty is going to be better than thirty, and fifty better than that. I am excited about the journey.

Rotten goddamn kids.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

when I was about 25, I attended a wedding where one of the bridesmaids was in her mid-30s, still unmarried. She seemed, sadly, sad to me. But we talked and she made it clear that being in her 30's had so far been the best decade yet. She was finally grown-up, a full adult, with all the keys to the kingdom. She didn't have to be 'precocious' anymore when she was the smartest or most experienced person in the room. She could pull rank, just because she had some age behind her. She was learning to work her 30's.

I kept her insight in my back pocket and as I relax into my 30s, I evoke that memory on occasion. It's a relief not to be a kid anymore.

I'm saddened by the folks I know who are my age and cultivating a cult of adolescence, who want to remain forever young. Seriously folks, being a grown up is not a bad thing. Slowly we reach for that elusive balance of authority and responsibility. To eschew that in exchange for the bright lights of misspent youth is so done. Uncreative. Maybe even a little cowardly.

Here's a toast to those who embrace the changes of life and see that the colors just get more vibrant and the flavors more deep.