Being the curmudgeon who says things aren't what they used to be

You know that person in your life who is unflinchingly adamant that “music these days isn’t what it used to be” and “kids these days want to grow up too fast?” That’s me now. Well, not exactly about music; there’s no Avril Lavigne and B2K but I can certainly notice the evolution of music in the last three decades.

It’s the first time that the transition of no longer being “in the know” is apparent to me. I finally sucked it up yesterday and asked Google to define “stan” and I kind of already forgot what it means. I also realized that I now have friends I’ve known for half my life. I am an aunt. A homeowner. More politically aware than ever before. Acknowledging with greater urgency that none of us will ever be younger than we are right now. I’m also realizing how atrocious my spelling is since a simple right click of my track-pad will solve my spelling woes without even needing to know what I did wrong.

This is the fist time I have really felt like time has been moving. Meanwhile, I’ve been behaving as if I’m going to exist forever–but I will not, nor will the people around me. And that’s a really sobering thought.

Things are changing, and I wanted to focus a bit on that today. 15 years ago I remember letting go of my mom’s hand while we were crossing the street because I realized I was growing up. Now I simply feel older. I’m guessing many of us have memories like this; that shifting moment after which nothing was really the same anymore. What’s yours?

I was listening to the audiobook of Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella when she opened my eyes to something I hadn’t really thought about. In the book, the main character is visited by the ghost of her great-aunt. She’s elderly when she dies, but when the ghost version of her appears, she’s clad in her twenties…in the twenties. At some point, the great-niece remarks that someone who’s 80 doesn’t really see themselves as 80. That they may perceive themselves as 25 or 30 on the inside, only their body isn’t what it used to be. And there is something so sobering about that, too. About being older but retaining the memories of being younger. Seeing your body aged but feeling youthful inside; like some sort of inexplicable disconnect. We feel like we are the center of the universe when we’re younger, but as we age, we dissolve more and more until we’re well near invisible to other people.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the things we do that waste time; things that usually manifest themselves in the form of fear. I’ve held off working on writing projects because of my fear of failure. Refrained from applying to certain jobs due to a fear of rejection. Been reluctant to let a relationship play out due to fear of the future.

But the things is, the Earth is just going to keep turning, and the people around us–even the ones who know us and love us–are going to keep moving too. So it doesn’t make sense for fear to have this much power over our lives. I don’t know what this post is except maybe a wish for both you and myself. So here it is:

I hope you go out there this year, and every day after, and do what you want; what you’ve been too afraid to do.

I hope you and I take our chances.

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  • Thanks, Mahjabeen. My "getting older" moment was more of a phase, around age 12, when my mother started insisting I should be a "young lady." I clearly remember saying I didn't want to be a young lady -- I wanted to be an old girl. I guess I'd heard "old girl" referring to older women, but what I was aiming for was being counted as an older kid, not a young grownup.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    I love that, thank you for sharing, Margaret. Cheers to getting older but staying young at heart.

  • I'm 76 years old, retired and have become that "curmudgeon". I suppose it's all in one's perspective. In a recent conversation with my investment manager, he encouraged me to consider investments over "the long term". My investment manager is 42 years old and I felt compelled to tell him that we manage the long term by different metrics. I no longer buy green bananas.

    At age 21 one's future can look bright with an unlimited potential. At 76, one's "future" and potential look quite a bit different.

  • In reply to Drew Page:

    That's a a great point, we do, and perhaps even should, have different metrics for matters as we age.
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Drew!

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