Archive for January, 2015

Aging Vicariously

Posted: January 27, 2015 in Philosophy
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I’ve never been one to get caught up in “getting older.” Sure, I recognize I am—but when someone talks about turning 30 with some amount of disdain in their voice, I don’t really feel the same way. Gray hair falls into the same category for me; sure, a rogue gray in your beard is somewhat distracting, annoying even, but not because of what it might imply; rather, because it’s a non-uniform thing in an area that should remain uniform. In some sense, it is equally distracting to me as a single strand that is considerably longer than its neighbors.

For a bunch of years now I’ve been told that turning 30 would bother me, perhaps because it would make me realize certain things about my mortality or youth or whatever that I didn’t realize before. Granted, I’m not yet 30, but I don’t feel a sense of aging that is in any way alarming or concerning to me.

My kids are aging, and it’s obvious. My daughter is more or less an all-star at school, is beautiful and intelligent, and shows a sense of conscientiousness and maturity that makes me smile when I think about it. My son grows and learns more every day, and might possibly be the cutest little kid on the planet; he is very intelligent and unusually self-aware. But aging in kids is unfairly skewed, because less than five years ago Zak wasn’t even born, and Zoe was a baby. Mathematically speaking, one year to them is more significant in that it represents a higher (although constantly decreasing) percentage of their lives. For me, one year is insignificant.

Even if it weren’t, I don’t notice my own aging. Sure, there are aspects of “getting older” that can bite, but only in unexpected ways. For instance, a night of drinking has much more serious consequences now than it did eight years ago, which is nothing if not ironic.   Shoveling the driveway has a much greater impact on me now than it did years ago too. But none of these things are necessarily indicative of aging, more that of not aging gracefully, and not taking care of my body as much as I probably should.

The place where I tend to most recognize aging is in others, and specifically, those friends and acquaintances with whom I went to school. Thanks to the miracle of social media, I see people from my past every day to whom I would otherwise have little exposure, and they are very clearly aging. I see it a lot in former crushes from elementary and junior high school, or those who used to be in the “popular” crowd that I had few encounters with over the years. And, because they are aging, I know I am too, but I don’t see it in myself because I don’t really feel it.

Aging is to some a necessary evil. But I prefer maturity, and growth, and development. People I know who are only a few years younger than I am are testaments to how people mature at different rates, as there are others younger than they are who are more mature. For me, though, the years of speeding on the highway and partying on the weekends are becoming a distant memory with each passing day. (Side note: we all still have those moments, and I imagine we always will, where we get trashed at a wedding or get popped for doing 85 on a sunny Sunday afternoon—but the tendency toward those events decreases for me as the years go on.)

This is not intended as offensive. If you are of the female persuasion and went to school with me, know that I appreciate aging and maturity, and I don’t think of it as a flaw, but as a bonus. Very few of us look now how we did when we were in high school…I have an extra 40 pounds (at least) that can attest to that. People who don’t find value in maturity aren’t worth my time or yours.

If you like to speed on the highway and stay out late partying, know that I am not being judgmental. There are parts of life that are necessary, even if they aren’t good: accidents, hangovers, loss, getting fired, breaking up with someone, etc.; in a word, experience. Experience makes us—no, it helps us—age. And aging isn’t such a bad thing.