Here Lies Youth

“Hurry up, there isn’t much time left.”

How often we hear those words as children. Less so as adults, even though time is running out faster for us than for our miniature companions.

I have lived half my life. My thirtieth decade is slowly drawing to a close and if I am very lucky, I have about the same time left as that which I have already lived. Time for me is always running out and I will soon be on a downhill slope, sledding faster and faster towards obliteration. This insight isn’t morbid or terrifying; it needn’t even be unpleasant but it does bring a tingling sense of How have I spent it? Have I ‘done’ enough?

If I live every day fully facing the reality of time, I may be able to escape the fate that so often catches up with us in old age: Spending my final years in a state of mental discomfort, ranging from mild to severe anxiety. It seems that the death of our body brings such despair for the mind that many of us can only face the end of time by dulling their minds with antidepressants.

So. What have I ‘done’ with Act 1?

In Childhood, I tried to make sense of it all. Moments of feeling lucky and joyful alternated with feeling the weight of the world and trying to accept the glaring unfairness of it all.

In Teenageville, unresolved emotions reigned unchecked underneath a polished facade. The core never did quite catch up with its shell.

The roaring Twenties were payback time. I made up for lost time by throwing myself in adventurous travels, legendary parties, daring deeds, and in my looks.

In my Thirties, birthing my daughters propelled me to another realm. I no longer had to work so hard to make my ego happy but I also had to stare down my mortality once and for all. The split inside me finally cracked open, the volcano erupted and I had to start rebuilding from its ashes.

The second act of my life will look very different from the first. Rather than come into being, expand and grow, I will shrink and shrivel and eventually cease to exist. This is the return journey, and I had better align myself with the flow of life rather than resist and resent it. My looks will fade, my body will lose its vigour and my hair will turn grey. Once I have lost my physical attraction, people will look at me differently, judge me on my character rather than my appearance, and perhaps even oversee my faults. It is an opportunity to be in this world by letting go of what I thought was beautiful about me. And, on the micro-scale, it is a chance to bid each day farewell knowing that I have made the most of it, not in doing but in being present in the tiny moments.

Dear Youth,

I cherished being you. Though I fell off the roller coaster ride several times, I mended my broken bones, healed my wounds and stopped wobbling. As I bury you in the soil of have-beens, I bow to you in gratitude. For all that you have taught me, for all that you had me experience, for all that you gifted me, I am thankful. I shed your cloak now, Youth, and bid you a kind farewell, may you rest in peace.

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