Does anyone else ever find themselves thinking, in a philosophical sense, “how did I get to be this old?” Of course, I expect that everyone ponders this question and I do realize that I’m not as old as some who will be reading this, but that’s not the point.
I was daydreaming today while out for my walk (which isn’t a great idea when there’s a skiff of snow on the sidewalk, but I managed not to slip while lost in my thoughts …) and thinking about my aging body, mobility etc. and I wondered how it is that I’m over fifty.
What is “fifty” anyway? Or fifty-one? What does it mean?
I remember when I was a child looking towards the turn of the century, thinking about how far away it was and that I’d be a whole thirty-five years old by then (I think I was probably about ten at the time). It was so far away. But it came and went and is now almost seventeen years behind us.
I also remember thinking that if my parents remained in good health, based on their ages when they had me I would probably be over forty when I had to face losing one or both of them and that by then I would be a fully grown, experienced and wise adult who could handle that loss (of course as a child you know that you would be lost without your parents, but being over forty is beyond imagination). I’ve since learned that you are never “old enough” to lose a parent.
I have children who are older now than I was when I got married; older than I was when I had them.
But sometimes in my mind, I am still young; I’m still the child, the newlywed, the young mother until I look around me and realize that everything has changed.
It makes me think of all we learn about our souls being immortal while our bodies age and deteriorate and I wonder if that’s why this happens in my mind sometimes, as my thoughts move through my life’s experiences frame by frame. Maybe it is precisely that eternal, spiritual, intangible part of me that sometimes sees it all as if it were one big event outside of the constraints of time.
I am just me, I’ve always been me, and I’m not sure that there is a fifty-one-year-old me or a “me” of any other age anywhere along the way. Is that why it’s sometimes difficult to grasp the passing of time? Because it’s really only the body that is aging while the spirit is free to exist in any moment of time that has already passed by merely remembering?
The mind is a tricky thing, storing every moment in a pile of moments that often seem to blend together in a way that makes it seem as though any one of them could be right now. Memories come back with flooding emotions and suddenly I can be right there in that place, feeling whatever I felt at that time, but experiencing it right now in the present.
Changes in our bodies mark time. Calendars mark time. Seasons mark time.
But sometimes I think our innermost selves exist outside of time in a realm we cannot possibly understand, even though we are sometimes allowed to see just enough to be left wondering …
What is fifty anyway? Or fifty-one?