I look around me and I see old people! Everywhere I look! Oh wait, that’s the mirror. But that’s not me. That’s some old dude. Some middle-aged old man. It can’t be me.
I’m sure our parents and grand parents and other adult friends all feebly explained to us mindless younglings about the weirdness of aging and the meaning of life. I’m sure we listened politely and nodded while they droned on and on and while we tried to focus and look interested. And off our minds went while they jabbered on about whatever. But let’s be honest, they were the OLD PEOPLE! Dumb old people at that. Why weren’t they smarter? They’d lived 1000 years! How could we possibly relate to these ancients?
Answer: Wait 20 years.
It is just weird getting old. It is awkward. It is frustrating. It is mind-blowing.
I mean I don’t feel old, I don’t think of myself as old, I don’t act old. Well, I probably act old, but I don’t intentionally do “old person” stuff. But guess what? I’M OLD. News flash: you’re old too. I have a different face, body and hair. I still have hair but it is quickly turning gray and retreating!
I tell myself that if I could go back with my brain that I would do SO many things differently! Make better decisions. Live more fully. Love life to the fullest. Treat people better. Stay in touch. Learn more. Take more risks. Because I’d know what is really important and I’d know what really matters. But you can’t go back.
But, you can try to relay the message to a generation who can learn something from our mistakes and regrets! So I turn to my twins who are quickly approaching manhood and I get real serious and quiet and I begin to share all these secrets of life. I’m old, I don’t feel old, but I am, listen to my experience! I begin to divulge all this profound and amazing gems of information. “Listen to me sons of mine and you will be happy, you will be successful, you can know what REALLY matters and what it is really like! You will avoid the pitfalls of life. You will take chances and live life to the fullest! You will have healthy relationships. Here comes the good stuff!”
And my kids, my offspring, my blood, my babies, they give me this look. It is a familiar look! I KNOW THAT LOOK! And then it hits me: It is the same look I gave those old folks that were trying to explain all those things that went in one ear and out the other. And they smile and they nod. And their eyes are unfocussed. And they are looking into space. Are they comprehending what I am saying? Can they even hear me? Are they even paying attention at all?
And I stop in mid sentence, in the middle of the most important thing they can ever hear. And I pause. And my mouth closes. And I smile as I give up and say, “I can help you if you can just comprehend what I am saying.”
But they can’t, they haven’t lived long enough yet. And it makes me sad. And it makes me love them all the more.