Age is such an odd thing. This is largely because time is such an odd thing, and because every person is so vastly different. I can generally never stand any type of popular saying, as they are all kitsch and usually so untrue and just laughable. I hate to admit that age is just a number might actually have some validity to it, then. As an avid podcast listener, I am accustomed to listening to random peoples’ points of views on various subjects. Sometimes I will listen to a mildly racist 60-something and think wow, even a middle-schooler should know that this is wrong. And then sometimes I will listen to a twelve-year-old tell his point of view on a situation or topic, and I will be completely ashamed that I cannot construct a sentence as well as some elementary kids.
This all, I believe, boils down to the idea that wisdom and age are completely different. If I spend my entire life inside my home, I’m hardly wise. There’s more to it than that: as someone who is anxious, and in some cases non-confrontational, I am often re-told things I already know by my superiors, or people who are at least older than me, because I don’t usually have the heart to tell them that their knowledge is old news.
“You know, you can print from any computer in the store,” my work’s wine manager once told me. I did not tell him that I had, one week prior, installed the printer software on everyone’s computer, including his.
“Oh, wow. That could be really useful,” I said instead.
My grandmother (I’ve only had one since I can remember remembering things) is only in her late 60s. I say “only” because some of my friends’ parents are already in their 60s. College was never her thing, and she has spent most of her life just getting by at reception jobs or cleaning apartments. Now retired, she spends a great deal of her money on alcohol and cigarettes. She does not, however, pay for cable, have a smart phone, or keep anything near a keen eye on the news. This makes many of my conversations with her difficult at times. “So, Amber and I just saw this really cool movie,” I will try to explain to her. But, she hasn’t seen the movie. If the movie should happen to half-way interest her, she will see it in a year or two, when she can find it in the clearance bin at Safeway. My grandmother has raised three kids, though. She has also supported herself and those kids on her own. She has been through a tornado and come out alive. She’s been mugged, she’s lost people, she has traveled. She has lived for 60-something years.
One of the friends I grew up with is now too busy to talk to me because he is trying to become a doctor. This does not anger me, as he has found what I consider to be a noble pursuit. Before this, my friend had been on the honor role at one of the most prestigious high schools in our state, gotten accepted to one of the most expensive schools in our state at a bashfully low cost, been hailed as the fasted barista in four states, and created his own version of Linux that displayed everything in binary code. He’s never had a full-on romantic relationship, though. He doesn’t like to travel much, and he can become comfortable extremely quickly.
I bring up my friend and my grandmother because I do not know what age has to do with these people in the sense many may think of. Age is generally associated with wisdom. If this is true, though, I know many young people who are much wiser than many old people, even about life experiences. Jut as well, I also know many old people who seem much more fun to spend time with then many young people.
I know that I often feel like my age has gotten away from me, though. Deep down I know it to be irrational, but I always feel like I should have so much more to show for myself at this point. This is the moment in which I like to remember when a friend and I were walking into target, only to find the most popular high school jock we grew up with limping into the store on crutches. He had gotten into a car accident during a DUI and was living with his parents in his childhood home still. It is soon after this thought that I remember that my two favorite musicians had released at least two major studio albums at this point in their lives, after having recorded several on their own.
Then again, most politicians haven’t made any real known contributions until they are at least in their 50s.
But Hendrix, Morrison, and Joplin all died at 27.
Yeah, but Kafka wasn’t even alive when his works were published.
That dick Justin Bieber was like 6 when he got famous.
Tons of poets don’t make any progress, or sometimes even start writing, until old age.
And the internal argument goes on.
This leads me to the conclusion, still, that age really is just a number. Some people make their way in life doing exactly what they want when they are growing up, some people don’t figure out their life until their 80s. I also haven’t seen much correlation in knowledge and wisdom with age, either.
This could also all just be me tying to justify why I don’t have a real job, etc.