I read on the news yesterday that scientists have found a way to reverse ageing in mice.
I’ve just spent the last 5 minutes reading that sentence over and over again and my brain still can’t grasp the implications and what if’s that come with this breakthrough.
From the time I reached my 30s, a significant portion of my waking hours (and a considerable amount of my sleeping hours for that matter) is taken up by thoughts of getting old, and the fear that the best years of my life are behind me. I think a lot about how I may not have enough time to do all the things I want to do before my body tells me its time to stop, and before the pressure to settle down and start a family finally wears my resistance down.
My friends often ask me what drives me to do the things I do. Someone said I must be the busiest person in the world, to be able to hold a full time job, do some freelancing, go to the gym regularly, read books, write a blog, and do adult stuff like the never ending pile of laundry that I can’t seem to ever get rid of.
To paraphrase Lin Manuel Miranda’s version of Alexander Hamilton, I live, laugh, and love as if I’m always running out of time.
I think its because from the moment you fully understand that nothing lasts forever and your time on earth is finite, there’s a sense of urgency that accompanies everything that you do. On my best days I have the tendency to worry and obsess unnecessarily about anything and everything anyway so I might feel this more acutely than others.
As an adult, there’s a bittersweet sense that accompanies even the most joyous of occasions. You feel selfish about every moment you spend doing something because you have to do it, not because you want to do it. My friends and I talk on an almost daily basis about taking a career break, because we’re fast approaching that point in our personal and professional lives where, if we don’t do it now, we’re never going to do it.
Time is a thief you wish you can stop, and on some days (birthdays, New Year’s, anytime you look at the mirror and see a grey hair popping up) its like you can actually feel the minute-hand moving closer to midnight and you just want it to stop. I often joke about how we should subtract the 2 years of our lives that we lost to the pandemic, because what a fucking waste that was.
I don’t always allow myself to imagine the things I could have done, the people I could have met, and the experiences that are now lost to me all because someone somewhere decided it was a good idea to have live bats for Sunday brunch, because it will only drive me crazy. It is what it is and we are where we are, BUT I reserve the right to have a good rant about it every now and then.
All of this is really just to say that I have a fear of growing old. I’ve just read through the many many journal entries I’ve written about it because I wanted to capture the fleeting moments of clarity that is mixed in with my ramblings and moanings about being in my mid 30s.
It’s not so much the growing old bit that scares me. I don’t really want to live forever. I don’t even want to reverse ageing, or turn back time so that I relive my college years, because you could not pay me to be 18 again.
It’s just that being an adult comes with this knowledge and certainty that life will disappoint you in many ways, and you just have to deal with it.
Sometimes shit will just hit the fan in the most spectacular way, and you’ll get a Jackson Pollock painting of stress, grief, and anger. There’s less scope for blind faith and trust once you’ve gone through things like that, when you’ve accumulated enough life experiences to know that things don’t always turn out right.
I’ve come to the conclusion that what I really miss is that sense of anticipation that comes with the unknown. When you’re younger and you feel like you still have the best years of your life ahead of you, you don’t know what’s going to happen so you believe anything can still happen. Something extraordinary could still be waiting just around the corner.
That is the feeling I constantly look back on, and the feeling that I am constantly chasing. If scientists can find a way to bottle that up for mass distribution I feel like we could achieve world peace.