In a few years, I'll be 40.
The preceding sentence was typed with no excitement. Perhaps some slight gratitude of living into another decade. But certainly no anticipation of the age. I was thinking about this t'other day, and how much the sensation of growing older now differs from how it used to feel then. As a kid, getting older was a crusade. It started with an idolization of the teenage years, and reached its zenith in pining to become a full-fledged, college-aged adult, doing all the things I saw teens and early-twenty-somethings doing in 1980s' movies.
Of course, those years came soon enough, and then ended almost just as quickly as they'd begun (or at least that's how it seems in hindsight). Overall, being a teenager and college-aged person were all right. Not ideal, but then how many of us get to enjoy the idealized version of life? I went to classes, got to drive a car, had sex for the first time, went to nightclubs, had my first beer, etc. etc. It wasn't quite like those '80s films, but close enough.
As a kid I would ponder what it would be like as a teenager. One weekend, in the 5th grade, I had a sleepover at a friend's house. There we were in the late '80s kitchen, debating whether to have cold chicken or cold pizza as a late-night snack, and in walked his older brother (a freshman in high school). I stopped and just stared at him. Here was coolness personified. True, I knew nothing about him aside from his age, that he was good looking and seemed to exude some confidence, but that was enough. He passed through the kitchen, said something like, "Hey, guys!" and was gone.
If only I could be that age!
Now, dear reader, it must be said that I haven't looked forward to growing older in something like 15 years. That is unlikely to change. I continue to be thankful for life, but that is probably part of the reason why growing older now holds little excitation. As Picard once said (paraphrasing here): "You realize that you have fewer days ahead than you do behind." And, the older we get, the more correct he becomes.
Of course, the upside to no longer being anxious about getting older is that we learn to appreciate the here and now more than the there and then. We understand that tomorrow is not promised, and so to enjoy the current days, while we have them. It's a shame that much of my youth was wasted on not knowing this simple fact.