I could see the activity out my kitchen window this morning:  an SUV loaded with plastic totes full of her worldly belongings, pillows, milk crates crammed with books and electronics.  I was witnessing a late summer, late adolescent rite of passage.  My neighbor’s teenage daughter was headed for college for the first time.  For a young adult, that’s often one’s first taste of full freedom.  I know for me it was. It was startling and jarring when my parents walked away from the grassy green quads of John Carroll University in Cleveland, leaving me to fend for myself for the first time

.  We prolong childhood in the United States longer than in most other societies.  In plenty of countries, 14, 15, and 16 years is considered adult enough to be in the workforce (other than flipping burgers) and even lurching towards marriage.  In the United States, college for many is a way to squeeze four more years out of childhood. For me it was a way to squeeze 10 more years…I didn’t finish until I was 28.  

And now in short order (won’t say the day:) I’ll be 40.  FORTY??  How the heck did I get here?  So much of life is perspective.  Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan is 42-years-old and all the newspapers are referring to him as very “youthful” which is heartening for me.  I watched an interview on TMZ with dearly just departed comedian Phyllis Diller.  At 94 she was still handling journalists questions like someone 70 years younger.  Life plays horrible tricks on one by altering perspective.  40 seems old to me now, but when I am 60 I’ll probably be pining for the days when I was 40.  I’m old enough to appreciate that fact now and maybe do something about it. Rare is the 20 year-old who seizes the prism of perspective to appreciate the moment.

So how do you handle aging?  Any tips?  Do you find you are happier as you get older or is all the good stuff in one’s youth?

 

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