We live in an age-obsessed society, no doubt about it. Whether from cultural influence, mainstream press and magazines, or even the self-realization of age as reminded via increasingly creaky bones, it is something that you simply don’t notice until you do, and then it’s everywhere. When Oscar Wilde wrote his now famous lines (though often mistakenly attributed to George Bernard Shaw) that “youth is wasted on the young,” he was spot on; the trouble is, if I might humbly add to this, only old folks say it, and the young won’t listen. Whether stretching skin, or taking pills, dressing young or acting older, confusion about age permeates our modern world. With that in mind, we take a second here to celebrate and elaborate on the love/hate relationship that we all have with age.
#5 – Classics become retro – It is a sad day indeed when you realize all the things that you once loved as a youth are now being recycled, are resurfacing, or worse—may even be liked ironically. Sure as the 80’s fashion and music of a few years ago is now resurfacing as 90’s influence, you can be sure that the ought’s are coming next. You must fight the urge to tell them how good that music was the first time around, and how you saw their first show whenever at wherever with what’s his name—you are only further aging yourself. For, although, you think that their resurging hipness and the mutual admiration society you have formed will somehow transfer on to you, rest assured it won’t. You see, they love them/it as they are received now, and not in the near-Jurassic version that old-cobwebby-you recalls. Still, the love to be had is this—who cares why they are playing your favorite band, just stay quiet and enjoy the music.
#4 – The obligations – Be they familial or otherwise, it seems that your teens into your twenties are filled with obligations; all the things that you have to do exceed what you want to do, by far. Perhaps it’s a trip with friends, or innumerable weddings (which incidentally always seem to happen in bunches of 3), perhaps it’s just a multi-generational family vacation, but it happens. Call it settling into your own skin, call it no longer caring, (or better yet don’t call me at all) but for whatever the reason, into your thirties and beyond, you simply cannot be bothered to do anything that you don’t want to. Of course you must beware, the end game of this is you as an older person before your time, grumpy and angry and refusing to leave the couch at all. Do what you want, but remember that on occasion there just may be a birthday party to attend when you don’t totally feel like it.
#3 – Friends – A funny thing happens with friends over time: the good ones become more so, the fair-weather are forgotten, and the new ones mean all that much more in light of how rare this gift is truly revealed to be. So, while you may enjoy as a youth being the life of the party and having friends in every which direction you choose, you do come to find out at the end that the more is most certainly not –the merrier. And all that is before you even happen to get old enough that all of your friends start to die off. Yes, give me one or two good and true friends, and I will show you a life well lived; as the only way to truly get one, is to be one.
#2 – Viewing the ‘rents – There is much to love about getting to an age where you can finally see eye to eye with your parental units. The ability to understand all the complexity and nuance of their relationships and learning how it has all come to shape your own experiences can be invaluable. However, the down side is realizing that they just may have been right about everything they ever told you. What’s worse is that they don’t stop dispelling information throughout their days. Which means, on the off chance that you make the mistake of letting them know that you know they were right…you won’t ever hear the end of it! Lastly, for all of your independence, the slow, sneaking suspicion that you are in fact becoming your parents, is a tough pill to swallow ––proceed accordingly!
#1 – Your body begins to betray you! – …And then one day you wake to find that without you knowing it, your body has begun to turn on you. Your late nights are suddenly rougher on you (true to form, even what is considered late, changes), the early mornings are a bit rougher, and often down right impossible without coffee. Now on the love side…and I get this is a reach, as what is there to love about your body getting older…but at least you don’t have the same expectation to be in perfect shape. It is no longer necessary to be in gym shape all year long. In fact, the longer you can just walk around on your own, you are already ahead of the game. Still, there is no denying the fact that you are an organism dying-ouch! So, there you have it: in the time it took to read this you have gotten older—deal with it!
The Love/Hate column is a verbatim record of the permanent argument going on amongst the various personalities in our head. Join me, myself and I, next month as we all sit down with family for Love/Hate: The Holidays!