August 28, 2018 by phicks2012
Age lends perspective, and sometimes humor. As I grow older I find myself constantly amazed that younger folk — MUCH younger folk, and Millenials as a rule — seem so astonished when I can converse knowledgeably (if not expertly) on subjects relating to technology, on mechanical matters, on Do-It-Yourself projects, and on other semi-specialized topics that they somehow expect me to be unable to fathom.
Admittedly these people are strangers, or they’d know better, but I can see it in their eyes. They widen in shock or amazement when I quickly grasp the dynamics of a new security system, or correctly diagnose the problem with my vehicle, or suggest a quicker and easier way to deal with property damage or improvement. They clearly do not expect that. They expect to have to explain things several times, very clearly-enunciated and simply phrased, before I will grasp the essentials, so when I rush ahead of them to speculate (correctly) on how something works the wide-eyed astonishment tends to be hard to miss.
Getting older is immutable — well, unless you don’t survive to do so — but it doesn’t automatically equate to getting stupid. Now, I’ll freely admit that I’m not totally up to date on EVERY new technological trend, and that some of the people I grew up with have not adapted all that well to the passage of time, and haven’t really kept up with advances in tchnology. Of course, some of them also bore me to tears when I try to hold a conversation with them. I mean, when I ask someone what they’ve been doing for the past ten (or twenty or even thirty) years I really expect some sort of narrative — ideally punctuated with humor or entertaining adecdotes, but certainly longer than a few brief sentences followed by an uncomfortable silence. However, I’m pretty certain the change in those individuals hasn’t been entirely age-related.
I’m sure most of us look back and consider what “might have been” if only we’d done something differently, or had the benefit of hindsight, and maybe some hopes and dreams fade away in the rear view mirror of our lives because they are simply no longer practical (or possible).
It’s normally a bit too late after retirement to be an olympic gymnast, or (for the vast majority of females) to bear children, or to qualify as a Navy Seal. But, Hey! That doesn’t mean we just stop living, or evolving, or learning — not unless we just want to.
We can, and do, still learn and evolve, and laugh and dream. Thus, the verse below.
When Youth Is Done
When youth is done, we well may sigh
And back upon our lives reflect,
That we let chances pass us by
And dreams lie fallow with neglect;
That we no longer freely dance
Upon the meadow and the hill,
And might have missed some fleeting chance
To find a love that lingers still.
When youth is done, and locks are grey
We may have won the game of fate,
Or gently packed our hopes away
To leave a cracked and empty plate,
Upon the table of of our lives
Whereon no fabled dreams remain,
And tell out hearts that none survive.
With bitter darts they have been slain.
But while the time might well have passed;
Our fecund prime departed, gone,
With satin cheeks that could not last
And soaring peaks to dance upon,
We may discover in our age
That war and love may yet be won;
We still may strive, and battles wage,
And dreams survive when youth is done.
[16 August, A.S. LIII, 2018]