I helped an 84 year old man up the steps and to the seat next to me. He lost his balance and almost fell, so when he was finally sitting down he told me “never grow old”. I laughed and told him that I prefer that to the alternative.
When I was younger I was terrified of growing old. And, although I’m not proud to admit it, I was terrified of old people. The way they spoke slightly slower, the way the skin in their arms was so thin and their bony hands grew more and more age spots. I guess I never imagined myself growing old. And yet, in the past couple of years my body has been changing so slowly that, had I not been looking for it, I might have missed it.
When I was younger, in the height of my insomniac days, I would sleep for a couple of hours and have a fully functioning next day. I can no longer do that. I would be able to eat whatever I wanted without feeling consequences in my weight or in my energy levels (insert the famous day where I stayed home all day to watch Felicity and all I ate was a box of Guylian chocolate shells — my favorite — and a bottle of Coke). Those days are over.
Like trees with rings for every year, I can see the time in the extra skin I slowly accumulate, showing me that time, for me, is also passing. This is not easy for me. And like mountains after years of erosion, sharp edges give way to softer, rounder shapes and although I am as fit as ever (the effect of months of backpacking and hiking and walking everywhere) I can feel the change. The inevitable change.
I think I am now less terrified of growing old than of not having the chance to get there.
Time is a sneaky, tricky little thing. I just hope I am using it wisely.