Older and Wiser04.07.09
(Photo by Brooks Fritz)
We ate at Perkin’s Restaurant for breakfast today and we were by far the youngest group in there. Being in charge of the band’s tour money, I went up to the counter to pay for our meal. I waited in line behind two geriatric patrons, one of whom was paying for his meal with loose change while the other arched his neck as much as possible, scanning the restaurant for his wife who came shuffling up to the counter slowly and deliberately. Perhaps it was just the fact that I’m on the eve of my birthday and now entering what one may call the “late 20s,” but I had an instant image of things I don’t want to lose as I grow old:
I don’t want to lose my tolerance and open mindedness.
I don’t want to be negative or adverse to new ideas.
I don’t want to reject changes, cultural and physical, while being bitter and angrily nostalgic.
The GOP is completely out of touch with the youth (and by youth, I mean the 30s and under – a definition that evolves as I get older) as shown by voting records, and the gap is getting greater and greater. While that makes me happy for the future, it also makes me wonder if these conservative old men and women – who vote against gay marriage, support the prohibition of marijuana, and only want abstinence-only sex education taught in the schools (if at all) – were once the rebellious kids who lied to their parents and snuck out of the house to meet up with a lover, or stole a swig off a bottle of their dad’s whiskey bottle, or skipped class to go smoke cigarettes on a warm, spring afternoon. I can’t imagine that they were all straight-edged and scared of change and the new like they are now.
What happened to them?
Did becoming parents change them? Or maybe their own personal demons caused them to alter their point of view on life? I’m sure it’s a different story for everyone but with the same similar components. I couldn’t tell you what it would take for me to drastically shift my opinions to the other side and that scares me. It means I don’t know what I need to avoid in order to keep my current outlook.
I am aware of it, though, and I think that will help me maintain an honest approach to the ever-changing and evolving world in front of me. I know that I’m different now than I was five years ago and I’m fine with that. I’m learning. I’m growing. I’m getting stronger. I’m getting better. While I know that I can’t avoid aging, I can avoid losing my humanity.
In a matter of hours, I will be another year older. I still feel like I’m ascending the mountain of life, not yet even near the summit, and excited about the rest of the climb. And there’s still a chance that maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe it’s not a mountain at all. Perhaps it just keeps going up and up and up and up…