This funny thing happened the other day when we were at a restaurant. We got chatting to our waiter Seth, one conversation led to another and then somehow we started discussing the year we were all born in. Of course we all knew Seth was younger than us. But when he told us that he was born in the year 1997, our jaws fell to the floor, because that is the year I finished school people! And that was the moment I truly felt OLD.
The issue is that age is such a weird and slippery concept. When you are my kids’ age, you are crystal clear about how old you are, what age your friends are, who is younger than you and who is older than you. “I’m four and three quarters!”. “I’m nearly eight!”. And this continues as you become a teen and then grow into a young adult. Age is still very definitive and clear in your 20s too, but then for some reason, once you pass 30, it all gets a bit hazy.
30 is a big one (usually tinged with many crises of confidence), but then from 31 onwards, I kept forgetting if I was 32 or 34. Am I 37 or 36? Am I seriously doing some addition to try and figure this essential life fact out? Maybe it becomes less important. Or we become too busy with our families or our careers. Or maybe we celebrate our birthdays less. But whatever it is, age suddenly seems to whip around you like wind in your hair and suddenly one year you will realise it is your birthday (yet again), and there is cake and warm wishes, and you wonder once again how did that happen so fast?
The thing about this age issue is that you start to think most people are aged similarly to you. Of course this makes no logical sense at all, but you do it anyway. That famous singer whose songs you love is only a little younger than you, surely (otherwise you have achieved NOTHING with your life;). That sports star is surely also 30-something? But then you read an article saying that actually he is only 24.
Your waiter is younger than you but you’re sure it’s only about five years difference because he looks about 25 and you’re still kind of 30, aren’t you? Well um no, he is more like 21 and you are nearly 40, so actually, instead of there being five years between you, there are actually more like TWENTY.
This is why our jaws drop to the floor. Because we realise suddenly how much further along in life we are. How much closer to the end of it. And perhaps we avoid facing this reality, and make up age myths in our heads, because we don’t want to face our own mortality.
I asked my Dad once, who is now 75, how old he feels. And he said “21!” at first, but then chuckled and said he still felt like a 30 or 40-something person. His body may be 75 but his mind still thinks of middle age as the default. Maybe this is a good thing though, this keeping ourselves young. Because if our mindsets are still young and we still think we are capable of anything, then there will be fewer limits on what we can experience and achieve. The world will still have so many opportunities open to us, there will still be so many places to explore, people to meet, new exciting things to do.
Thinking we are young, possibly keeps us young. So maybe it’s not that silly at all.
I hope you are all having wonderful long weekends, however you are spending them.