Age has always been a minor, albeit varying, factor in my life. As children, we all go through those stages where we want to be older. Rushing what we perceive as our unlimited time. As we get older, some try to resist. But most of us eventually reach a truce with reality and just accept time’s passage.
A recent conversation, for whatever reason, stunned me. While speaking with someone interested in telling his life story (a complicated one involving bank robberies and prison time), He asked how old I was, wanting to see if I had any point of reference to the Watergate incident and a man named G. Gordon Liddy.
I told him I was in high school and had watched the Watergate hearings. I prefaced this by saying, I’ll be sixty-two this year.
As the words came out, it caught me by surprise. I could not put my finger on why my age stunned me. Hanging up the phone after arranging a meeting, the memories of those sixty-two years rocketed through my brain.
So, I do what I always do when something strikes me as odd, or funny, or troubling. I write about it. It is a habit I’ve developed over, incredibly, sixty-two years.
I have a misty memory of the first grade where I was sent down the long, intimidating hall to bring a book to the eighth-grade classroom. In my mind, the eighth graders were ancient ogres. I had to navigate around them like giant redwoods. They were the scary “big” kids. Old and dangerous.
Now, I’m shocked when I see graduate students from Brown University driving cars. They look so young. My grandfather used to say, when cops and priests start looking young, you’re old. He had that one right.
When I was seventeen, a group of friends and I would stake a claim to one of the many dunes of Horseneck Beach. We had our stash of fake-id acquired cold beer and plans of conquering bikini-clad young women. At least the part of the beer being cold was true. Our tales of sexual conquest pure fantasy that improves with age as it drifts further from the truth.
On one expedition I recall a conversation, between our fruitless attempts at charming any girls, about how we would be forty-four years old in the year 2000. Both elements seemed unreal and unreachable. Here I am in the year 2018. Both 44 and 2000 are distant memories.
My daughter, her birth another life-altering event when she arrived in 1988, will soon reach one those milestones in life. I won’t say she’ll turn thirty this year, but you do the math. To some, such things are traumatic. I never found them so. How she’ll react is as personal to her as it is to everyone. Age and the progression of time is the one equal opportunity aspect of this shared life.
Age discriminates against no one. Time gives itself with little regard for anything.
I suppose it may be the reality of understanding the unknowable allocation of the time we each have left, and that we are all ticketed for the same departure event, which caused this simple conversation to shock my consciousness.
Time continues its unalterable passage. The summers of our youth will take on almost mythological alterations of reality. By holding onto these memories, we may embrace the summers of our future with greater appreciation.
We can strive to enjoy every day for within each moment is the potential to create a memory.
Age is a state of mind. But it is not what defines, hobbles, or imprisons us unless we let it.