Wednesday, March 12, 2014

30x30: You're Not Old and Neither Am I


Few things are more annoying than young people complaining that they're old. It's just not cute.

When I hear  25 year olds complaining about they feel so ollllld now, I kinda want to slap them in the style of the Batman and Robin meme and shout, "No!" 

I imagine that it's equally uncute when 30 year olds complain of old age within earshot of 60 year olds. What do we know from getting old? But then again, what does even an octogenarian know next to the 200 year old bowhead whale?

So 30 is seriously no big deal. 30 is fine.

Though I can't help but become aware of the small but irritating injuries I get from time to time that would never have happened at 22. And how I'm no longer immune to hangovers. And how all the new pop stars are now younger than me.

Physically, we get older not so much because time passes but because, in the process of cell division, mistakes are inevitably made. Oh, and because breathing oxygen will kill you, apparently. (Not even exaggerating).

But what about the mind? What about how old one feels? Certainly, this is connected in some part to the health and relative ability of the body, but what about the psyche? Certainly it seasons, and becomes more complex and faceted as experience and understanding accumulate. And maybe that can make one feel old. Maybe the specter of the accumulated past gets heavy and makes it so.

And then there's the fact that at any given age, we are older than we have ever been. That may seem like an obvious statement, but no matter how many have gone before us, each new age is personally uncharted territory. History might give us a roadmap, but the topography's always changing. 

That's the fun of it though, right? All of this living would be pretty dull if we'd be the same way we are now for all time, if we always knew what was coming and already knew how to handle it. And how could we really appreciate the gifts of any age if they were indefinite? 

I'm not suggesting that we always want what's coming. There are gifts and there are punches to the gut. But either way, what's coming is coming. It's just a matter of how we receive it. So I try to take care of myself - eat green things, do yoga, find occasions for laughter - and try to welcome each transformation with grace.

I'll never complain about being older if I can help it; it's in poor taste. It's a disparagement to the richness of the accumulated past, and a Batman and Robin slap in the face to the gifts that being older humbly offers.

Original illustration by Isabella Rotman

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