It was a comfortable summer evening and Mom and I were saying goodbye to our neighbor and good friends out on the driveway. Still chatting. Still laughing. I was friends with the children and Mom & Dad were friends with the parents. There was never enough time with good company, but the sun was setting and my friend’s mother wanted to make dinner by the time her husband came home from work. We had a lot of fun and they were truly like family to us. It was then I asked Mom if she could carry me. She said that I was bigger and that I was too old to be carried. I didn’t realize that I had grew taller and had longer limbs. I didn’t understand time (or age, really) when I was a child. I couldn’t tell what five minutes was compared to thirty minutes.
Confused then by what Mom had meant, it was a couple of years later did I see it for myself. My younger cousins I babysat grew up so quickly. One minute they were tiny little humans who couldn’t even walk on their own and within what felt like a few months, they were running around talking about their favorite television shows and video games.
But now I’m older and have a better understanding of time. I know what it means and how it works. And yet, life isn’t easier. Age becomes this important number that defines what role we play in society, how we behave and who we should be. But on the other hand, actors sometimes play characters years younger than they truly are. Lovers can sometimes act like children (and sometimes they really are children). And then children act like adults or in some cases, have to be the adults.
I look at the mirror and now more than ever I think about my age. I think about whether I look like someone my age. I don’t feel like my age. Am I doing what I’m supposed to or if there are any real rules to follow, anyhow? I think the answer is no. Everyone is so different. And who are we really? We aren’t our age, we are our spirit, our character, our own unique personality. It’s what makes me me and you you, even if we happen to be born in the same year.
Today, I celebrated a birthday of someone I care about. Someone who probably had to grow up a little too fast and had to toughen up earlier than most. These experiences, their will, their resiliency is what defines them. Not this number they are identified by. It’s important to keep track of time and how it affects our health and etc, but it doesn’t need to be an indicator of our own identity.
This reminds me of my grandfather who didn’t seem to let age define him. He actively played sports later in age than most (I think he actually stopped because his peers weren’t up for it anymore) and learned how to play on advanced video game systems (and he was born almost half a century before video games even existed). I use these as examples because it is uncommon someone at his age to have done these things and although age is a factor here, it was never a factor for him. He didn’t need anyone to validate anything (as long as I knew him). He did what he felt was right and true to him. It’s this energy he had in him that I really admire. Grandpa lived a long life, a beautiful life, a full life. His age of spirit is timeless.