Having recently celebrated a significant birthday, (I won’t admit which one,) it got me thinking. When we are children, every birthday is distinctive as we climb the ladder of age. Our loved ones make us feel as if we are the most important people in the world and we look forward to getting another year older. We don’t have a care in the world.
Then we reach the first milestone. At ten years old we enter double figures and are made to feel grown up and important. Then, only three years later we arrive at thirteen when we become teenagers. That elusive, in-between time that separates adults from children. During these years we wish our time away and long to be grown up and independent.
Another three years and we are sixteen, the magical age of consent, but can’t wait for the next two years to pass when we reach eighteen and embark on the official beginnings of adulthood. Twenty-one is still a cause for major celebration but after that birthday our view of things changes. Imperceptibly at first.
As we sail into the wilderness of no more special birthdays for nine whole years, the excitement of getting older has worn off. We start to understand that time passes relentlessly and there is nothing we can do to stop it. The decades pass and responsibilities crowd us. We have to earn a living, care for children and/or elderly parents. We have to juggle all those things to try to create some form of harmony and life is difficult.
We barely have time to catch our breath as the decades speed by. At thirty we mourn the loss of our twenties. At forty we begin to see our parents looking back at us when we dare to gaze in the mirror. Fifty is scarier. Sixty and that blasted mirror shows us a resemblance to our own grandparents, but we fool ourselves into thinking we are still middle aged.
Seventy arrives and there can be no denying we are officially old. Bones creak and muscles ache. Hair is grey or gone. Teeth are fewer and laughter-lines deeper. Depressing isn’t it?
Then eighty comes along and, surprisingly, things improve. We don’t have responsibilities. What’s another year? Who cares if we wear clothes made for a teenager? We don’t! Who minds that we take longer to board a bus, load the conveyer in the supermarket, or hold up the line at the post office? We don’t! At eighty, ninety and if we’re really lucky to live beyond that great age, we have reached the ultimate in human evolution. We don’t give a damn how old we are. We’re still here. We’re still breathing and whenever or wherever we’re going next, we’re going out in style!