I speak to people. I look around, listening. I read and I think about my own reality, and paying attention to all these phenomena leads me to state that many people want to get to old age but only a few are willing to embrace what the ‘getting older’ fact brings. We want to live many years, of course we do. We want to grow older. But we don’t want to accept its consequences.
I see children who want to give up being little so fast and I don’t know if this is a natural evolution of their beings or if adults are pushing them to become older before their time. The truth is, that as soon as they can manage with the language, they want to clearly express that they are not babies anymore. They are now big kids, they say.
I see young people who want to reach 18 in order to obtain unrestricted access to more realities & more exciting experiences. Then they want to reach 25 to get even further. However, it seems that crossing the 30’s border brings in a decline in instalments. Like if reaching 30 was like reaching the climax point of the rollercoaster; from there everything is coming down and after that there is only a boring & decadent ending.
I see adults who submit to aggressive aesthetic treatments to fight against the clock. They invest in potions & lotions, dress & behave like youngsters and lie about their age, keeping it hidden under seven heavy locks protected by seven keys while they continue searching for the eternal youth elixir that would return them to another time that they’ve already been to.
I see older people who live clinging to wailing & weeping, stock-still in a pale sadness, turning into delicate monsters of feelings, into emotional scourges for themselves & for their close ones. In that lethargic surrender pose I can see often bitterness, reproach, even anger sometimes, detachment from what they truly are & attachment to what they were one day: youngsters who, very possibly, wanted to live many years.
So far I haven’t heard of many young people who want to live for only a few years. Death at 20, 30, 40 or 50 is not something that many human beings long for. At the end of the day life seems to have an irresistible hook, a bittersweet after taste that leads us to desire another bite, another sip to be enjoyed just to see how it feels, just to stay a little bit longer, simply because it is nice here. Maybe we had a bad day, month or year but tomorrow it will be a brand new beginning and we will be able to start all over again.
I’ve lived so far nearly 38 years and my empathy levels can only help me to imagine how it feels to be older. The frustration quite often because of abilities wearing out; the increasing lack of autonomy; worsening health; the pain of loosing your dear ones; fear of death, that seems such a close reality now; nostalgia for the past; the yearning for that freshness that has been fading away with every sip; loneliness…
I also wanted to be bigger when I was a child and to reach 18 when I was only a young teenager. At 25 I wanted to be 30 and when I was 30, I felt that this was the best age I’ve ever lived. Today I firmly believe that the best age is the one that we currently are. Just like being in a traffic jam or falling in love, just like laughter or crying: whatever is happening is what we are led to live in that particular moment and the only tool useful enough to manage it efficiently & ecologically is attitude. I can face the traffic jam with wild or with controlled anger but I can also choose to face it with temperance & serenity. Neither of those options are going to get me out of the traffic jam but I will deal with it better if I choose temperance overall. Whatever I choose, whether I am conscious about it or not, it will always be my very own responsibility and the consequences of my displayed attitude will also be all mine and for me.
I would like to live many years, but not so many to become a burden for myself and for the ones next to me when the time comes, if it comes. I want to see myself as an old lady one day, beautifully wrinkled, able to see inside each fold of my skin the life that I’ve travelled through, the love that I’ve seeded, the wisdom that I’ve harvested and the sceneries that I’ve discovered on the way. I would like to share all that with the older people, adults, youngsters, children & babies that I might have around. I would like to nourish from their freshness, innocence, enthusiasm & knowledge, enjoying all that with joy because even the heaviest & most uncomfortable aches & pains are clear consequence of my living.
Many other babies, children, youngsters & adults couldn’t say the same because they left far too early. So my joy will honour the life I had and the lives of all those as well. The great Flaubert said: “be careful with sadness; it is a vice”.
"If it was not so dark
when turning the corner…
Or simply if all of us
could understand that each of us
is carrying and old person inside."
Joan Manuel Serrat