26 is the new 80

Yesterday I dramatically underestimated how old some folks I knew as children had grown. I figured middle school, but they’re both in 11th grade. Outrageously underestimating the ages of children is what elderly people do. Now in my second quarter-century of existence, I am having a quarter-life crisis.

Now, I’ve heard that as you begin to get older time starts to move more quickly. Given that it seems like a week ago I was just starting at NC State and just yesterday I first met my now girlfriend of almost a year, I imagine that if this process continues consistently, by the time I’m fifty I’ll be seconds away from ninety-nine and then dead. On my deathbed I’ll be telling the nurse “I feel like I was being born just five minutes ago.”

I also am beginning to get ailments that doctors just say I’ll have to put up with for the rest of my life. Well, one. I got my first “floater”  a little while back. It’s just a little dot that hangs around on my eye and gets in the way, especially when I’m working on my computer. Apparently they’re normal at only 26, but it took me a while not to feel existential dread about my inevitable demise every time it appeared in my vision. I suppose a crucial part of aging gracefully is coming to accept each new manifestation of my physical form’s slow, inexorable decay as it comes.

So, now it’s time for me to get serious about my life goals. Clearly I don’t have much time left, so I’ve got to start achieving them, pronto! That means I have to define these goals. Here they are roughly in no particular order:

  • Satisfaction and security in my career
  • Love and mutual support in my relationship
  • Being the change I want to see in the world
  • Some form of self-expression through my writing
  • A community that will not be mostly dead when I’m even older than I am now

The key of the last one is to avoid being alone in old age without having to have children, which are a drag on at least four of my five life goals as presented here. I suspect this can be accomplished with the proper intergenerational community involvement. In any case, I’ve got to get to work on it! Who knows how fast the years will start flying by?

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6 thoughts on “26 is the new 80”

  1. As someone deliberately child-free, I am particularly interested in this week’s post. I decided not to have kids for a variety of reasons, one of which was, as you suggest, they seemed incompatible with other goals in my life. Although this decision does raise the specter of potentially being without emotional support in old age, having children is certainly no guarantee against this fate as one’s progeny may well be unavailable at the critical juncture due to geographic distance, care of their own children, mutual dislike, etc. Since the time I’m most concerned about is when I’m quite old (over 80, say), my plan is to become very involved in a lefty church after retirement. With luck, after 15 years of devoted volunteering ( which I think I’d find enjoyable and fulfilling), I’ll have developed strong enough connections with like-minded folks to ensure oversight in my dotage ( should I live that long). While no life plan is risk-free, I think this is more likely to work (and more ethical) than procreation as a hedge against loneliness.

  2. Maybe you will start getting younger soon. I notice all of our collective parental-type people seem to have infinite energy. And your mom did have accurate knowledge of how old people were.

  3. Sam, Old age is great too. The more children you adopt the more fun you’ll have. And I think you already have found a wonderful life partner. Remember that no one is perfect, not even you nor I, so we also must accept some other imperfections in others. Only Jesus was perfect. My faith has made such a marvelous difference in my life, and I have no concerns about death. Thank God. Grandma

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