I spoke to my grandpa on the phone the other day. It was barely a conversation, with his bad hearing and my inability to decipher his mumbling, but we were connected in some way, and that seemed enough. He told me he greatly enjoyed reading the marriage blog I had posted earlier, especially the part about his own love story with my late grandmother. He was of course, highly emotional (it absolutely broke my heart) but he was happy. For the millionth time I wished I had enough money to fly to India and see him whenever I wanted but consoled myself with the thought that I could at least talk to him on the phone when I felt like. The conversation made me think about aging.
Why is it that as children, we are always in such a hurry to grow up and gain that elusive freedom we’ve always wanted? Why are we in a race to get to the legal drinking age, marriage age, driving age or whatever else? Why is it that we are reluctant to sit with our grandparents and listen to stories about their past, or pay attention to teachers who try to teach us important life lessons we’ll probably need later on, or just.. spend as much time as possible with family (especially the older members) while we actually have the time? Now, fifteen odd years later, when we’ve finally achieved that freedom we’d always wanted, why do we desperately try to back pedal? Hey, you know you do it. I know I definitely do.
This age obsession is so deeply woven into our lives since the beginning of human history that we don’t even notice it. We celebrate getting closer to death every single year (birthdays!), we impose age restrictions on ourselves (legal drinking, driving, marrying ages, Medicare benefits for seniors, retirement ages and so on), we have ‘coming of age‘ rituals and ceremonies for young boys and girls across the world, we develop statistical analyses of health risks based on age groups, we get upset and try to ‘forget’ our birthdays when we realize we’re fast approaching our 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, etc., we make ridiculous purchases and blame it on mid-life crises, we develop thousands of anti-aging products and surgical procedures….and the list goes on.
I often think longingly of the days of climbing trees, skinning knees, saving up for one piece of candy, childhood crushes, kindergarten, reading Nancy Drew, wearing mom’s clothes and makeup and then getting into trouble, getting excited for summer break and family vacations, and writing to Santa Claus. Back then, I’d daydream about driving a car, wearing lipstick and high heels, decorating my own house, having a job instead of school to attend everyday, not having to ‘eat my veggies‘ if I didn’t want to, etc.
Honestly? I’ve done all that and it’s no big deal. In fact, I wish someone would tell me to eat my veggies and stick to a healthy diet, heels make my feet hurt, I hardly ever wear lipstick (lip balm ftw!), driving can be annoying, especially in rush hour traffic, house decorating can be fun if you’re not trying to buy stuff after work when you’re already exhausted, and I don’t have the option to ‘skip class’ unless I feel like being unemployed.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is, aging is inevitable. You were basically born on this Earth to die. (not to be a wet blanket, but it’s true) The second you were conceived, you started to age, and no amount of botox or anti-aging products is going to change that. So instead, I urge you to spend all the time that you can with your elders, asking them about their past or their thoughts on certain current trends in the world, or just…anything. Having their stories and their opinions will create a legacy for you to leave for your children, and for them to leave for theirs. After all….
“The goal isn’t to live forever, it is to create something that will.”