15 Thoughts on Growing Old

  1. There are people who will tell you that you are only as old as you feel. These are the same people who swear that you are not 40+ years old, but rather 40+ years young. They are forever saying things like, “Aging is a state of mind.” All I can say is this: Those people must have been born with some amazing genetics because they apparently don’t feel as old as I do. Yes, you are only as old as you feel and, at some point between age 30-something and 40-something, my body started to feel old. Because my eyes lost their ability to focus, I have to ask my kid — an actual young person — to read ingredient labels for me. What’s more, I’m starting to think of my hip bone, my low back, and my feet in the same way some people think of cherished family members who just can’t seem to pull their lives together. Not long ago, I told myself that age was just a state of mind, and then I proceeded to play kick ball with a bunch of true young people. Well, I was rounding third base when I pulled a muscle in my back and my knee. I hopped my way to home. You want to know how I felt as I was limping around for a few days? Well, it wasn’t young.
  2. There are stages in life when you want time to speed up: when you are a kid waiting for Santa, a teen waiting for age 16 and a driver’s license, a young adult waiting to graduate from college, a young parent waiting for that the toddler to stop picking up quarters and eating them for breakfast. But when you are officially no longer young, you no longer wish for time to speed up. No, once you are no longer young, you find yourself wishing that time would just slow down. You see photos on Facebook of children that you remember holding as babies and now they are graduating from college and you know you should be happy for them — and really you are, mostly, sort of, yes mostly — but there’s still this part of you that’s all like: Why couldn’t you still be a baby? You know it’s illogical, this not wanting children to ever grow up. But, still. The heart wants what the heart wants.
  3. I don’t believe young people ever say things like, “The heart wants what the heart wants.”
  4. When you are young, 10 years feels like the span of time between the big bang and the annihilation of the dinosaurs. When you are not-so-young, 10 years goes by in the span of time it takes you to learn how to use a piece of technology that has already become obsolete.
  5. And technology? I can only assume that young people look forward to every new invention. When you are not-so-young, new technology reminds you of that dream where you are back in college and taking a test for a class that you forgot to attend all semester and you don’t remember where you put your number two pencil and even if you did it wouldn’t matter because you can’t even see the little circles you are supposed to fill in because your reading glasses only exist in your waking life. That dream.
  6. I’m pretty sure true young people no longer take tests using number two pencils, but I can’t say for sure.
  7. I’m also pretty sure true young people never say things like, “OMG I found a floppy disc in my basement. I wonder what’s on it!”
  8. When you tell a truly young person that there was a time when you heard — errarrhhgrreeeahchzzz — for a really long time before you could connect to the Internet, they just can’t wrap their minds around it. When you tell them that, before the Internet, people read books and talked to each other in person, they accuse you of lying. After all, there has always been an Internet.
  9. True young people can type “k?” and not feel even the smallest sensation that there is something so wrong with what they just typed.
  10. When you are young, you might declare various things about yourself to be true. You might, for example, walk around telling people, “I’m into minimalism.” When you are not-so-young, you declare nothing about yourself because you find your self pretty dang confusing. What? You’re feeling nostalgic? You’re saving your dog’s old tooth because….? You just don’t know what is true anymore, if anything at all.
  11. When you are young, your brain works, pretty much all the time. It even works when you abuse it by staying up all night long. When you are not-so-young, people tell you to write things down so you can more easily remember them. But when you try to follow this advice, you write things down and then you forget where you put your list. Sometimes you forget that you even have a list. So instead you rely on a young person — quite often your own child — to remember all your important things for you. “Remind me what you want for your birthday closer to your birthday,” you tell this person. Or, “Don’t let me forget to call Grandma for Mother’s Day.” Or, “Young person with amazing young brain, remind of of the password for the home alarm system, will you?” This is one reason why you want time to slow down and kids to stop aging. If this child grows up, no one in your house will ever be able to log into anything ever again.
  12. Oh, and let’s talk about nostalgia. That’s one of the most perverse things about being not-so-young anymore. You find yourself wistfully caught up in memories that you didn’t even enjoy the first time around. You find yourself looking at old photos and thinking, “Oh, he was so adorable as a little baby.” Suddenly you want to hold him again, do it all over again, go back in time, have him be a baby. You think of that time he threw up on you in the middle of the grocery store and you’re like, “Aw, wish I could go right back to that! Aw! So precious! Why did he have to get big?”
  13. When you are young, you have no idea why not-so-young people say things like, “Youth is wasted on the youth.” When you are not-so-young? You don’t understand how young people could ever not understand this expression.
  14. When you are young, you care about things like whether someone puts the cap back on the toothpaste. When you are not so young, you’re just happy that your spouse is still alive and that you don’t need to brush his teeth for him. Or vice versa. Yet.
  15. Of course, age is relative. When you are middle aged and you happen to be visiting a 90 year old in a nursing home, you’re a baby. When you are the same age and you are volunteering at your kid’s school, you’re ancient. So, no, you are not only as old as you feel. You are only as old as the person standing next to you.
Written By