I wasn’t feeling my age until yesterday, when a nice suburban family we strolled by shouted for their tiny puppy, Ninja. About an hour later, a man worked his pickup magic outside a bar, hat turned sideways and ash flying from the cigarette bouncing in his fingers while his t-shirt warned, “Winter is Coming”. What bothered me most was how cranky this made me: how dare they? Pop culture shouted from each storefront yesterday matched the culture we had to sneak into specialty shops to appreciate a decade ago.
“This is what getting old means,” I thought. “Sitting in a hamburger shop with my kids, mentally accusing people around me of appropriating my memories.” Of course, I’m not too far along in years and sound quite dramatic at the moment, but wave that judgement aside and hear me out: how much time have you taken to sit still and realize how the world is moving on?
For my kids, birthdays are a joyful time of gift-receiving and celebrations. Another year under their belts! Another year of learning and growing and getting bigger! It’s not quite the same for us adults anymore, is it? Some time ago, we started to realize how fast the years pile up. Our previous joys are a myriad of milestones building and building, and we’re wondering when the collapse will come or if something will outlast us.
That’s what makes me start to feel old: moments fading into the past, and fewer every passing moment are there to remember with me. I started to think about the culture my kids are experiencing and will experience. Sure, right now they’re so into Mommy’s interests, but like rings on a tree those things will bury themselves in years until only the memories remain.
“This is the Wyrd of all living things,” I once read. “First beauty, then death.”
Don’t take that one as dramatic as it sounds, either. Death is not the end of beauty, but the remembrance of it. It’s intimidating and freeing at once to realize the world is moving on, just as it always has. It will never change, always dancing patterns and only shifting the tempo ever so slightly.
I have no profound answers here, by the way–not even half-assed guesses. I’m making it up as I go along, about like everyone else. I’m mostly content, a little excited, and a lot scared. I hugged my little family tightly before bed and told them I love them, then promised the kids that they’re going to have some really great, loud music to rock along with (or whatever it is kids will call it) in another decade or so.