Tuesday, April 07, 2009

my age

I've been thinking about this for years, since working at Celebration! when I asked a lady her baby's age and got, "Oh, she's 27 months."  At first it hacked me off, because really, why can't she just say, "About a year," what's so special about three months?  I think a co-worker had to point out that, at that age, everything is special about every month. 

So why not continue this into our later lives?  I know, I know, we're not learning to sit up or speak or walk (unless we've been subject to Unfortunate Incidents, in which case we do often revert to the months accounting), but why shouldn't every month be just that special?  We're learning something new every day, from mending a broken heart to how to really love someone, to how to get our shit together.  How to live more fully, how to cut our losses, and practical things, too.  How to train a dog, or become an accountant, or make a real friend.

Or maybe we're not.  Maybe we stop learning, and start congratulating ourselves for having gotten to the end of all that.  Maybe we decide we're finished, and ignore all the learning opportunities that present themselves to us, and we become Grown Up.  Maybe that's why time seems to go so much faster as we age, we stop counting the days and weeks and months, and move to years or even decades.  We count by the last thing we learned, and so instead of treasuring this week, this month, this year, we gloss over big chunks of years, chunks of our lives that we weren't really paying attention to because we, we've got this shit down cold.

Let's nip that in the bud, let's treasure the smaller increments of time we grow through.  Look, listen to me now, I'm going to talk about something I know.  Give up your hang-ups about age, and aging, and death.  When you are 98 years old, if you are lucky to live to be so old and decrepit, you will wish for your strong, youthful, lusty body, full of life.  You will not care how your skin was or whether you felt attractive.  You will think that you were stupid and vain and foolish and selfish, back then, to be so picky about yourself, so nailed to others' opinions.  You will say, "Oh, God, to be 65 again!" and you will be deadly serious.  You will yearn for the days when you had your teeth, your hair (you too, ladies, and you lose it all over your body), your spouse still alive, the days when you could remember, at bedtime, what you had eaten for breakfast.  Or dinner.  You will mournfully cry, "So young!  So young!" when a friend dies at 77, because he didn't know how good he had it, he without a walker, a hearing aid, a 30-year-old Guatemalan helper with better things to do brusquely helping him toilet;  he who had so much life before him.  

I was 250 months the first time I got my heart broken, but I've learned since then to do it more often.  I was 300 months when I moved back in with my parents.  I was 370 months when I went back to school.  I periodically calculate my age in months because it throws off my brain.  Does that make any sense?  I can't really get any perspective on being 32, but 384.4 months kicks in a new gear in my head that understands something I can't when I'm in the "years" gear.  Being in AA has got me thinking about days, too.  Just so you know, I'm now 11,700 days on  this Earth.  That's 1671.4 weeks, if you were wondering.