One of the most boneheaded expressions in the English language is the one that describes old age as "The Golden Years." Who came up with that one? Probably not an actual old person. I mean, what's so golden about walking into a room and forgetting why you're there or feeling guilty about the fact that you're 57 and haven't had a colonoscopy yet or watching helplessly as your muscles start to resemble pie dough?
The only people for whom those years are golden are your internist or the orthopedic surgeon he sends you to every two weeks because your back is killing you. These guys are the ones accumulating the gold. The only thing you're accumulating is wasted time arguing with customer service representatives at Blue Cross.
Another boneheaded notion is that the older you get, the wiser you become. I don't know about you, but I don't feel particularly wise. What's the theory here -- that once you've reached a certain age, you're supposed to suddenly turn into Aristotle? Or maybe people think that older folks are wiser because they've spent so much time in doctors' waiting rooms studying copies of National Geographic that were published before Arizona became a state.
Sure, I've had experiences and I've learned things from some of them. I've learned, for example, that it's a bad idea to rent a car in Athens. I've learned that forgetting your wedding anniversary will most likely lead to a night on the couch. I've learned that honesty is not always the best policy. I've learned that getting drunk and barfing at a dinner party is not considered classy.
No, the real golden years take place when you're young. Remember those days? You didn't need Botox to keep your face from resembling a topographical map of the lower Tetons. Your hormones were permanently set on blitzkrieg mode. Serotonin was practically shooting out of your ears. You thought a radiologist was someone who fixed radios. The future was still a bright, exciting prospect, not a reason to make out a Living Will. You could have milkshakes for breakfast and not gain weight. You were invincible.
So here's the question: If you could magically turn back the clock, how old would you choose to be? And whatever that age is, would you want to know what you know now or not?
I've asked a few of my friends these questions. Some of them actually say they like being older and would never want to be young again. I don't see these friends that much because I can't seem to find the time to visit them at the asylum
Others say they'd like to be young again, but only if they knew what they know now. Really? To me, this makes no sense either. I mean, why would someone want to be, say, 21, and worry about what to put in a DNR? Why would you want to know beforehand that love and lust are not the same thing? Or that you will probably never direct a move? Or that your wildest dreams will probably never come true?
To me, it's a no-brainer. I'd love to be 20 again and make the same dimwitted blunders I made then. I would trade in wisdom and caution for naiveté and impulsiveness any day.
What would you choose?
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