I was born around the early hours of the 14th of April of the year One Thousand Nine Hundred and Eighty Seven. This very moment, now, that I’m writing this I am exactly 25 years, 6 months, 15 days and a few hours old. I was just reading a light hearted list that a friend had made, aptly titled as “26 things that happen on the other side of 25“, when I realised just how old I am. There were some funny ones and then there were some which really touched a cord. On an unrelated note, has it ever crossed your mind that sometimes the most basic and the most trivial of things affect you in ways you couldn’t fathom? Like hearing an old joke that you had forgotten or maybe just reading a simple line in a book that moves your heartstrings.
Coming back to the age issues. So, while I was reading that list it suddenly struck me that what if I just, you know, die within a year or so? I mean I could die pretty much before that but just for the sake of a hypothesis lets talk of a year. If I could float up and see myself in flashback mode would I have regrets? You bet I would. Wouldn’t all of us? Yes there are those who say that one should live life king size and never regret one’s decisions and blah blah blah blah…
They can go on and on. Life is short. Life is too important. But important only in retrospection I think. Unless we do those things that we did we’ll never know how it shapes our worlds years after. But what of those few who don’t believe themselves to have ever achieved a milestone worthy of being lettered? What of those who, like workmen, extinguish one day at a time just getting by? Remember the protagonist from Erich Segal’s, The Class, Andrew Eliot?
The bloke is not a go-getter. He’s not the kinds who dreams of greatness. He’s the least bit ambitious! He’s not the one that people applaud when he walks across a room. He’s not the hard working, executive who aims for the sky. He just is. But imagine the feeling of appreciation he must’ve felt when he’s applauded by a rousing crowd of Big Shots towards the end. He was the best among The Class!
That’s the kinds I’m talking about. I’m not talking about Eliot because he’s appreciated in the end and turns out to be the unsung hero. On the contrary I’m talking of him because I relate to the guy so much!!! If he could float up, zoom out a little, and see himself I’m sure he’d feel a little sad about how he’s lived so many years of his life. In retrospection!
I am old. I know people say all kind of things about age. Like how age’s just a number, like one’s just as old as he wants to be while some more adventurous ones say that “What’s age got to do with it?”
Well, I’ll use a little bit more literature here to show you what I mean. Holden Caulfield. You should know him. One of the most brilliant characters ever written. Remember the part where he keeps wanting to call that girl, Jane Gallagher, who he played checkers with? The one who kept all the kings in the back row? I feel a little like how Holden did while he stood contemplating whether he should call her or not.
He goes through the drill many times. He goes to the public phone too. But he doesn’t end up talking to her. There are things that I want to do. I’m sure I want those. But for some reason I just don’t do them. I decide, I plan, I begin, even. But then give up. Sometimes valid reasons, sometimes circumstances beyond my reach, sometimes just sheer pessimism.
So when people nonchalantly talk about how age means nothing I feel like I’m losing the little semblance of sanity that remains. Am I the only one who fears that things’ll not change? Am I the only one who perceives things this way?
What if, like in Catcher in the Rye, like Holden, even my life comes to an end and I still haven’t been able to call Jane and say a Hi? My hand is on the phone’s receiver, I’ve got a coin ready in my hand, I’ve all but said the perfunctory salutations…and I stagger and fall to my death!
Alas! Age caught up and how!!!