About the time of the lugubrious demise of my second marriage, which
coincided iniquitously with the death of my father, I came to understand
all the multihued dimensions of the admonition “don’t buy the green
bananas.” And I would add, “everything changes.”
Can many individuals under the age of thirty-five genuinely understand the meaning of ‘temporary’ and the fact that it is the transitory nature of
everything that is the only constant in our lives on the planet? Possibly
war veterans and those poor souls who have undergone major trauma at an early age can. The rest of us are blindsided when the fleeting nature of life begins to manifest itself, as it invariably does once we reach a certain juncture in our span on earth.
There is a misapprehension — albeit a natural belief, and a needed belief — when we are young that if we work and strive in a certain direction, towards a career, a marriage, a family, or whatever else it is we’re trying to attain at an ongoing level, that once we reach our goal there will be a plateau of sorts upon which we can rest and reap the rewards of our efforts. In answer to that idea, my simple answer is – “Ha – ain’t a gonna happen.”
I once heard that every decade of one’s life passes (in the mind) twice as rapidly as the one that preceded it. Thus, the time from birth to age ten, when all the learning needed to survive in the human sphere is acquired, when the bulk of our physical growth takes place, and we are left on the cusp of entering sexual maturity, seems to take eons to pass.
Age ten to twenty, on the other hand, still a time of huge growth doesn’t in retrospect feel that it was near as long. Twenty to thirty, thirty to forty, and so on, pass away with increasing rapidity. Does the person of ninety feel that eighty was only a blink of time? That’s the impression I get from old folks with whom I’ve spoken.
Kurt Weill said it best: “And the days dwindle down to a precious few – September, November …”
“One day I looked in the mirror and there was an old woman looking back at me,” said my late mother-in-law when she was about seventy. “I didn’t feel any different, so how did this happen?” If she didn’t know, then I sure as hell don’t know so, sorry, I cannot provide an answer to that question. I just know that it does happen — and it happens fast.
As our days go on, it comes as an unwelcome visitation into what we
perceived as a natural order, to find that change, not constancy, is the
process of life. We, a mass of cells consisting of a larger mass of atoms,
all in constant motion, are also in constant motion in a universe in constant motion. We are liquid, and why should our life affairs be any different? They can’t be. It’s an elementary law of physics.
Consequently, the person who attains maturity in middle age will be the one who not only recognizes this truth, but who also, and more importantly, accepts it. It’s in the accepting where the courage is demanded. So, if you need aphorisms with which to guide yourself through this passage, there is only two of consequence.
The first is: Don’t trust anything to stay the same.
The other is: This too shall pass.
Sucks to be us mortals, but we have no choice.
(By the way, I didn’t write the foregoing because I felt morose. Just reflective.)