Sunday, December 30, 2012

Thoughts on growing up, on the occasion of the marriage of an old and dear friend

I tend to only see my own aging as a matter of hindsight. I suspect I am not alone in this regard. Every day you get one day older, but many years might pass by before you properly appreciate how far down the stream you have come. By the time I was willing to countenance thinking of myself as a 'young man', I knew that already the 'young' qualifier was not really appropriate - in terms of age, I was just a 'man'. When I truly was a young man, I just thought of myself as a teenager, including until well into my 20s. When you are confronted with evidence of how your life is progressing past you, you feel foolish for not noting it earlier, and feel embarrassed at the way you laughed at all those before you for whom aging caught them by surprise. Papa Holmes told me the other day that although he is much older, in many ways he still thinks of himself as he did at 18. I suspect he too is not alone in this respect. I remember a Reddit post where doctors were talking about the last words that some of their patients uttered. One of the ones that stuck with me was a guy whose last utterance was 'When did this happen? When did I get old?'

To take joy in returning to the pleasures and ways of the past is not necessarily nostalgia. Sometimes one will be clinging sentimentally to the idea of some golden age, and as a way of not letting go of one's youth, which is what I think of as being nostalgia in the true sense. But other times, enjoying the company of good people really is just a great experience worth trying to preserve. It was excellent in the past when you got to do it all the time, and it is still excellent when you get to do it now, albeit less frequently. Unlike getting old, I can proudly say that I did reflect at the time on what a rare pleasure it was to spend one's time with excellent companions.

Congratulations on getting married, old friend.

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