Monday, March 13, 2017

When Did My Friends Get So Old?

When I taught driving, a youthful and energetic client in her 70s commented to me once "when did all my friends get so old?"

Younger, thinner, darker (and longer) haired, running the
first Pi-Con in 2006.
I realized the other day that many of my friends are in their 40s, an age which never struck me as old, but certainly as older than I. Then it hit me that I will see my own 40th birthday before I see the next Summer Olympics. It's one thing to play math games and see that I'll be in my 50s when the Koalid graduates high school, but it's quite another to see my current age and compute that I am very close to the point where I have more years behind than I can expect ahead.

So, what does that mean? 

In some ways, it means nothing at all. Age is just a number. There is no magic age at which I must suddenly start doing things differently.

In other ways it implies various things. I am now old enough that I have seen things that seemed like they must last forever run their course and end. I have learned many things. I have forgotten many things. I have learned what I do not know.

Photo taken on the train as I write this post, looking like
the father of the guy in the other photo.
I have seen that the cycle time for a phase of life is about 5-7 years, which means three such cycles before the Koalid becomes an adult. What does that mean? I ran Phoenix Games for about 5 years. I wandered through various jobs and mismatched relationships for about 6 years. I then met Amy and came to my current phase of life.

It is easy to reach this point of life and think that time is running out, but when you realize that great enterprises can rise and fall in 7 years, there are quite a few 7s left before I run out the clock.

But when do you look at the clock? There are two times. When you want it to run faster and when you want it to run slower. If you are in a boring class or an unproductive meeting, you look at the clock hoping it will go faster. When you are young and long for the freedom of adulthood, you hope it will go faster.

When you look at it wish it will slow is when you feel that not enough has been done with the time that has already passed and you wish for more time to make up progress. So, perhaps this recent awareness of time comes of some sort of dissatisfaction. Do I wish I had done more with my lift to this point? No. I think I have done quite a bit. I do, however, wish I had progressed further: better credit, owning a home, those kinds of things. Of course, it is not too late to achieve those things, but it's certainly later in the game than might be ideal.

Age is, indeed, just a number, just like a FICO score, a bank balance, and the mileage on a car. Not all-defining, but not unimportant either.

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