Not that I'd used this label before, but I had a fantastic mentor for a while. As is the trend for young people, I did not realize how good I had it until it was gone. When he died a few weeks ago, I was devastated. How strange it is, to be surprised by the effect a person has on your life. You would think I would have noticed something like that.
After the memorial, I went through the old emails he'd sent me over the years, searching for some of the humorous gems I remembered and hoping for some previously undiscovered words of wisdom. Even in death, he did not disappoint:
My point, to close, is that it really is not so much important where you start, and how long it takes, just so you get to your destination, and not when you are too old. You will have to work until 75, I am certain, so you have plenty of time to amortize your investment.
Keep going, he tells me. It is not too late, not by a long shot. It only feels like I am old because this is the oldest I’ve ever been. But don’t worry, life says with a chuckle, you are going to get older. Much, much older. You’re welcome!
That is the funny dance of our modern lives, trying endlessly to hold death and old age at bay, as though they are twins rather than rivals, each stealing numbers from the other. How do we not see that old age is the prize we gain for surviving a raucous adolescence? Wrinkles are the door prize you get, in addition to the degrees, jobs, raises, pink slips, leases, relationships, and other life detritus we collect year after year.
Remember how old you felt five years ago? Or ten? Extrapolate that sensation for ten years from now, and listen to your older self when she tells you that you aren’t shit yet. You are still a baby, fumbling through life. We all are. For ever.
Fumbling through life, making mistakes, feeling younger than our age and older at alternating intervals, and wondering what on earth happened the entire time.
Assume that this is just how life feels, marvel at it, and move on.