Life sometimes feels like it will last forever, until one day you trip on a crack in a sidewalk, begin to fall, and that place in your mind where you thought forever is no longer there.
As you fall you see your coffee begin to ascend through the opening of the lid. You see details in the sidewalk that you didn’t notice before, mainly the crack that has caused your fall, and you think about pain and finality as you brace yourself to experience Newton’s Universal Law of Gravity, first-hand.
But suddenly your left foot – which was in mid-step and didn’t cause the fall – miraculously jets under your body, catching you before you scrap your cheek on the urban floor. You feel lucky. You feel ‘forever’ again. And usually you just keep walking.
This happened to me today. This actually happens to me a lot. I am clumsy. But after this fall/catch-myself episode I had an epiphany: I won’t be a young forever.
Growing up we find ourselves obsessing about becoming older.
When you’re 15 you dream every day of turning 16 so you can drive, and nothing else seems to matter. When you’re 17 you dream about being 18 so you can tell everyone you’re an adult while your parents still treat you like a child. And at 20 all you do is talk to friends about how being 21 is going to make life so less stressful, because fake ID’s make you anxious every time you use one. And then one day, maybe at 22 or later, you may trip, you may catch yourself, and you may think: I’m getting old.
For those of you that don’t know Newton’s Universal Law of Gravity, let me explain in simple terms: What goes up must come down. A balloon thrown in the air will eventually drop, teenage boys testicles will eventually drop, and so on. Newton’s Law could arguably be used for any topic but one: Age. You will never get younger; you’re age won’t drop. But you will one day drop-dead, drop-off the map, etc. You just keep getting older and older and older, never going back down.
The other day I was walking with a friend and age came up. As we walked to dinner the topic of dating also came up, and in the middle of the conversation he stated that he doesn’t find older men attractive, at all.
As I pushed him further into the why’s? and how come’s? of his proclamation, it came up that the real reason was not about the partner, but more about the fact that he is afraid of being old – going as far as to joke that he wouldn’t mind dying at 45.
I was baffled that he would choose death because he didn’t want grey hair or because he didn’t know if he could look at himself in the mirror, see wrinkles, and think: I still got it! But when I reflected more I realized that this shouldn’t be so surprising.
Our society puts a lot of pressure and privilege on being young. We see that in TV, in magazine ads, on billboards, etc. Age is an existential crisis that we are constantly fighting. Whether it’s fighting to become old enough, or fighting to look younger, we seem to be constantly fighting and not just accepting.
But really, what is so great about being young? Beyond the faster metabolism and better livers for drinking, what really has us young’uns so idolized for something that is ephemeral?
I don’t really have an answer, but what I do know is this: Falling isn’t fun and having your face on the concrete does hurt. I know that I find older men attractive, grey hair and all, and that if my wrinkles get bad enough I can get Botox if I have the money.
I know that getting older isn’t a death sentence, but rather proof of life, proof that I was here and that I fought hard enough in some way to stay alive. I know by being older I will have experienced love in its numerous forms, and I will have lost that love numerous times, and I will keep on trying to love some more and lose some more.
In my old age, when I get there, I will be able to show the world that I have had many falls and still I got up. Until the day that I don’t, and that day will only look like a moment among many moments, the one fall among a long history of falls. And in that moment I think I will enjoy just lying there, in peace.