Is it really nothing but a number? I always thought that's how I felt about it. Now that I'm back in school, I might be swaying in a different direction. While there are people my age, around my age, and older than me I can feel the younger students regarding me in a different light. Maybe it's a testament that I really wasn't getting out enough. All of these observations are making me weigh how I view age at different times in my life.
At this stage of my life, I'll find myself watching reruns of old tv shows. Not really old reruns, recent ones. I was watching House the other day and it was an episode from 2007. I thought Wow, that was 5 years ago - I was only 35. We'll turn on a movie and I'll check the year it was made (thank you directv) and be exasperated that it's 12 or 14 years old. What? Those actors look so much younger! Am I looking that much older, too? 10 years ago, I can honestly say, I didn't think this way. These thoughts didn't go through my mind. Maybe I'm realizing what all those older people in my life were telling me about time passing way too quickly. I'm also seeing that time goes by more quickly (or seems to) with each year that passes.
When I look in the mirror, I don't see much age. I do see that I'm older, but I don't see "old". I know that I am viewed as old by really young people. I have conversations with nineteens & twenty somethings and I become fully aware at the respect they hold - maybe respect isn't the right word. It's more of a "regard", as I mentioned earlier, they regard me in a different way. I look in the mirror and don't see old, but I also absolutely do not feel old. I feel just like I did at 19. The only thing that feels different is my mind. It feels more adept at life. It feels a little wiser and it knows that there is something to be experienced, or learned, every day. It's a consciousness that I think can only come with age, with living longer. Each year that passes brings me to a better awareness of this. If I look back, even the difference (in awareness) between 19 and 24 was astounding.
Another thing I am much more aware of, even though I've always had this in the back of my mind (as an adult), is how my elders feel. I think about those who are in their 60s or above and think How must they feel? I know that I feel the same inside, even though I look a little older - but they look a lot older. I'm sure I'll have a better understanding of those feeling when I get there. I can say that I'm treating them differently. I'm trying to be more objective in realizing that they are the very same people today that they were when they were younger. I didn't have thoughts like this 10 years ago, either. Unconsciously, I think I always regarded them as if they were just old people. And I have a great deal more respect for those who've lived longer than I have. They know more than I do, they've experienced more than I have. I think that's natural for all of us.
Then there's the idea that these older people do act differently. As we get older, we direct ourselves more keenly toward everyday activities. We take less for granted and even some of my friends who were excessively outspoken have toned it down. We are still ourselves, but better. I know this isn't true for everyone, but it is for most people. I know people that respectfully carry themselves with their youth. They seem the same, well, they are the same - they just have a youthfulness about them that so many people I know have lost. One of my best friends now, Jill, is that way. I take comfort in being around her innocence, her honesty and her ability to just be the same.
I just want to always remember, and be conscious of, the fact that we are all still the same, no matter what number of years have passed. Those years do represent a simple number, but to everyone those numbers signify a lot more than what the first question of this blog post might convey. Some years are labeled as milestones - 16, 18, 21, 30, 40, 50, 60, etc. What signifies those as milestones is probably different for everyone. 16, 18 or 21 were not milestones for me, they were just birthdays. 30 and 40 did feel like they were milestones fro me. What will 50 bring? I don't want to be there, yet, and I think I won't want to be there when I get there. It just sounds so old.
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