March 12, 2005


AmbivaBlog has some thoughts about growing old. Pushing over one of the 0's is always an occasion, and she's thinking about the six-0 occasion.
This is the last year I'll have the luxury of saying, with astonishment, "I'm almost 60!" I remember my grandmother saying, "I feel exactly the same as I did when I was 16, and then I look in the mirror and say, 'Who is that old lady?'" At this age, I discover, you can feel very old and very young from one day to the next. One day it's, "Sex is so over. I'm old now, a watcher from the sidelines. It's not that I don't have any desire. It's that I don't have any hope." The next day, envy for the sex-ridden is replaced by pity, if not contempt, as I view their driven, drunken antics from the self-possessed paradise I last inhabited when I was 12.


Since I was quite young, I've thought about aging by imagining myself saying something to my older self, offering some advice or encouragement, and, as I've gotten older, I've remembered the things I thought of saying to myself all those years ago, so the communication actually did occur: my young self sent a message to my older self. I've also contemplated the reverse: what would my older self say to me now? Imagine yourself 10, 20, 30, or more years in the future: what does that person say to you? The answer is purely imaginary. Maybe you will reach that age and realize that is not the message you would have sent at all. Does your older self tell you to take risks or to be more careful? If you think your older self wants you to take risks, and you do, you may grow into the older person whose message is you should have been more careful. But if you think your older self wants you to be careful, and you are, you may grow into the older person whose message is you should have taken more risks.

UPDATE: Tung Yin reads this posts and wonders if I'm a "Star Trek: Next Gen" fan. Episode reference: "Tapestry."

ANOTHER UPDATE: AmbivaBlog responds to my post and writes the letters from old self to young and from young to old.

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