Thursday, October 21, 2010

Some aspects of getting older that people don't often think about

Aging is, possibly, the most important aspect of living. Dealing with aging, meaning time itself, is an essential life-skill that not many people acquire, no matter how long they live. It's about maturity, acting your age, time-management so that it doesn't fly away without you having accomplished anything, and coming to peace with death. There are all kinds of less-pleasant things, too, like the following:

You are going to miss a lot of things
When you are a child everything seems possible. One day, you think, you may get to see space, maybe visit another planet, at the very least there is the possibility that you will become an astronaut and know what it's like to be free from gravity. Technology seems to be moving rapidly, so that by the time you are grown up you may be able to live in a domed city, own a flying car, and a have a clone of young Demi Moore that you keep locked in the basement for your entertainment. Except, it won’t happen. When you get old enough to compare your aging to the movement of technology you realize that while it will probably happen, some day, for somebody, it won't for you. Some cool shit will happen while you are able to do something with it, but lots of cool shit will wait until you are too old to care, and most of it for when you are beyond being even so much as a memory.

You learn stuff that would only have been useful prior being old
One the big reasons people have kids is that they can find something to do with the accrued knowledge that you get only from screwing up. The shy loser learns to talk to young pretty women at age 50. You learn the appeal of cunnilingus only when the only women you have access to are somebody's grandmother. You get a work-ethic when your hands are too arthritic to do much, or technology is so far beyond your ability to grasp that you cannot adjust. You truly learn how to win a football game long after the scholarship offers have disappeared. If you don't have kids then you have nothing to do with it, you can't use what you know ever again.

Young people are assholes
Young people are to old people what the Red States in America are to Liberals. Crass and ignorant without know it. When the fact of your own ignorance is hidden completely from you, so that you are uninhibited with it, unable to disguise it or remedy it, then there is simply no point in having anything to do with you. Discussions are meaningless. The first and most important obstacle to any meaningful understanding of anything, is to admit that you do not know. If you truly believe that you do, then there is nowhere to go. You have to agree to disagree, which is what a cold war is.

You learn what a crappy kid you were
This is the other side of learning that young people are assholes. With each newly understood part of life your previous ignorance gets clearer. With old age comes the tools to introspect better, and often the time to do it in. If you have kids you see yourself reflected in their stupidity. Even if the kids around you are worse than you ever were, you still learn that you were on the same path, and could have been as bad. Parenting is a form of justice, though. The people who were the worst kids usually wind up raising kids who are worse than they ever were.

Nothing is as good as it used to be
No food, no art, no device. Nothing is made as well as when it was new, no technology can be enjoyed in the same way it was when new. No food tastes the same as when you were young and your life was relatively simple. For one thing, your tastes were less mature, you asked less of life, you had no preconceived notions and no pretensions. Now you are jaded and tired of experiencing things. For another, people change, the world changes, the ethic of one generation does not necessarily carry over to another. A pie made in one decade will cater to a different set of sensibilities the way a novel might.

So many things that you can't leave behind
You get over exactly nothing. You leave no addictions behind, you just replace them, none of your traumas are forgotten, they just get covered up. What people consider getting over stuff really has to do with the quality of the covering. How well do you mask it? How well do you keep it locked down so that you can live the rest of your life around it. It's always there, a part of who you are until you cease to be you anymore. The only recovery is a paint-job, not a reconstruction.

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