Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The years teach much which the days never knew.” Isn’t it strange how the little bits and pieces don’t seem to have a big impact, but when you add them all together, the important stuff happens. Eggs, ink, flour, paper. Alone, they’re nothing special. Together, they’re a delicious, hand-held dessert with wisdom packaged inside. And so it is with life.
Recently, while having breakfast with one of my college roommates (we’ll call her Rachel), it occurred to me that one of the great things about becoming an adult is that you can maintain close friendships even if you don’t see each other or talk all that often. I’ve found for many of my friends, we simply pick back up right where we left off. It’s as if the days and months (and sometimes years) slide away into nothingness, and we’re right back in the dorms or at the old apartment.
Tales of dorm-made strawberry margaritas spilling on my laptop (that was a difficult one to explain to my father…) and going for a run every day at the same time in hopes of seeing that hot guy with the UF cap on warmed us up for the topics to come.
Rachel has an adorable son who looks exactly like his father. Apparently he is finally talking now (and actually making sense). Rachel was sharing how having a young child in the house completely changes your life. “And you know what else?” she said. “Don’t buy good furniture until your kids are older. To be safe, maybe wait until they graduate from high school and actually move out of the house.” For a girl whose only child at the moment is a 6 year old cat named Jack, this advice seemed a little daunting.
“Just the other day, P came in the room looking a little sheepish,” Rachel elaborated. Sheepish. For a boy who is potty training at the moment. That could be scary. “I asked him what was wrong. All of sudden, two crocodile tears ran down his cheeks and he told me, ‘Mommy, my stomach came out of my mouth.’ Sure enough, I go into the living room, and there’s little boy vomit all over my couch. *Sigh* The joys of motherhood.”
Oh, P, one day, when you get older, we’ll swap stories. You are not alone, sweet boy. The number of times my stomach came out of my mouth as a kid is quite remarkable. One day.
After spending some time with Rachel, it got me thinking about the joys of getting older. I’m at the age now where all of my friends are lamenting the fact that the years keep ticking by and they’re simply not ready. (I admit, I often contribute to these conversations.) But after my date with Rachel, I realized getting older isn’t that bad. Here are a few reasons why:
6. People tend to do the right thing more often. While the stereotype is that people, especially men, get grumpier with time (and I have a friend who admits he’s quite ornery about certain topics just because he’s older and has that excuse), right and wrong seem to become clearer. Sure, children know right from wrong from a very early age; sometimes, however, they follow the crowd and screw up. As you get older, the crowd seems less important. And that can be a very good thing.
5. People can get away with more. Ever give your four year old little sister bubble gum? What happens? I’ll tell you what happens. All hell breaks loose when she manages to smear it all over the backseat of the car. What happens when an old person gives a four year old bubble gum? Nothing. Old people can do no wrong when it comes to young children. It’s like getting to be Santa Claus on some random Tuesday afternoon, and then again two days later, and then again on Sunday after church.
Along those same lines…
4. Children are fascinated by old people. Once the fear of suspenders and gigantic glasses wears off, children can’t get enough of old people. Ever seen a five year old get up close and personal with an old person? Two soft, chubby little hands go right to the soft, wrinkled, worn-down cheeks and those hands push and poke and smoosh up and down. I look forward to having my cheeks smooshed when that day comes.
3. Discounts. What’s better than a student discount? A senior discount. Apparently there are big perks at the tire place and the movie theater for making it to old age.
2. Your stories get better. Ever listen to a six year old tell a story? Did you understand that? Something about a dog and an Easter egg? Yeah, me neither. Ever listen to a sixteen year old tell a story? It’s almost painful how many times “like” and “you know?” appear. Ever listen to a seventy-six year old tell a story? Oh, man. They’re good. Really good. And “Once upon a time, when I was a young man” is often the perfect beginning.
1. You’re that much closer to heaven. And heaven is where you get to meet up with your old dogs and your old grandparents. I’m not exactly sure what heaven looks like, but from what I can tell, it’s gotta be good.
So while there are a few disappointments at getting older (I’m sure not being able to do a cartwheel anymore will be devastating to me), the good outweighs the bad. And because I’m a big fan of not being dead, I’ll take as many years of old age as The Big Guy Upstairs is willing to give me.
**Photos courtesy of fasttrackfundraising.com, collegecandy.com, tanakamusic.com, brucemctague.com, flickr.com, ease1.com, newsfeed.time.com, studentsforliberty.org, and elephantjournal.com.