Everyone’s a Building Burning

Most mornings, I wake up, look in the mirror, and am genuinely surprised that I’m not still twenty-five. As the candle of my life burns shorter, I feel like I’ve come to a place where time races by, while I remain still. Not in a bad way. I only mean that things are fairly good, and I change slowly while the world moves on.

But I don’t think my twenty-five year old self could ever have appreciated life the way I do now. Much as I envy that young man’s youth and vigor, I prize my hard-won wisdom and perspective even more. Only, I have a feeling that, two decades from now, I might look back on this moment in much the same way.

It’s become clear to me only recently that I’ve become, in a sense, blind to age- in much the same way that Stephen Colbert doesn’t see race. I’ve reached some sort of middle ground in which I have the advantage, for the most part, of taking people for themselves regardless of chronological age. Some young people seem to have soaked up a great deal of wisdom in their short years, while some who are older are still trapped in infantile ways.

My own little rebellion against time is the refusal to dress my age. I know I lose some respect at work for dressing like a twenty-something in snarky t-shirts and jeans. It’s not really a matter of giving the finger to father time, so much as catering to my younger self image. I always tell myself I’ll dress my age just as soon as it will benefit me to do so.

But I think that, in large part, the advantage in age comes from knowledge of my own mortality. That young man that I don’t see in the mirror really thought that he would live forever. I don’t. And the sure knowledge of the finite nature of my time compels me to better things. To tell people when I appreciate them. To take chances. To make things that might, just maybe, outlast me. To leave the world just a little better off for my having visited it.

Some mornings, I mourn the loss of my youth, but on the good mornings, I cherish the time I have left.

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