Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Age

There is a scene in Judd Apatow's brilliant Funny People when comedian George Simmons, an Adam Sandler-like figure played by Adam Sandler, presides over Thanksgiving dinner. Sick and alone, Simmons/Sandler poignantly tells the gathering of twenty-somethings that this holiday together is the one they'll remember the most. Simmons reflects on how much older he is than the rest, and that he no longer talks to people he was once so close to. It's an understated, emotionally rich moment.

I've been thinking a lot about time lately, and find myself even sadder than the Sandler character, who's actually four years younger than me. I'm lucky enough to have some things in common with Simmons, though I'm not super-rich, or dying. At 47, I've been fairly successful and, dare I say it, retired for about 6 years. My family is great - a wonderful wife that I dig the most, three boys growing into three solid men. So, why am I so mournful? I'm aware that no one likes to hear the whining of a guy in my position, but I continue nonetheless.

As a kid of 18, or 22, nobody would've called me "Mr. Joie de Vivre." I never had that "Hey, world, look at me" attitude, or thought that I would run the table at life. In truth, I didn't really enjoy my younger days - the driving internal competition I put myself through, the emotional roller coaster I was on, the ultra-moodiness. I didn't look at getting old as desirable, living a long life an admirable goal. I still don't. The very idea of living again as long as I already have makes me shudder.

The physical changes of aging bug me, for sure. The thinner hair, the slightly (slightly!) sagging face. I'm in pretty good shape, about the same weight as I was 25 years ago. Physically I'm not as solid as I was, can't do things as well or as easy as I used to, like getting up from a chair without shooting back pain.

Do I wish to be younger? Not really, my life has never been better. But being young, there's nothing like it and I'm not sure why I feel that way. Maybe it was those moments of discovery, about people and things, that is irreplaceable. Maybe it was those late nights of intense discussions about music and politics, every argument accompanied with absolute certainty. Maybe it's those memories that, in reflection, seem so perfect, not marred by the realities of being insecure, completely dependent on parents for money, a false sense of control.

I think what it comes down to is that I wish I was the person I am now, but back then. I would've been so much happier. And what really nags at me, what comes through more and more every day, is that I could have been that person - confident, caring, kind, generous - and I wasn't. That guy was there, lurking some where beneath, the whole time and the years I buried him were a waste. And it sucks to know that.

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