“When you’re young, you always feel that life hasn’t yet begun — that “life” is always scheduled to begin next week, next month, next year, after the holidays — whenever. But then suddenly you’re old and the scheduled life didn’t arrive. You find yourself asking, ‘Well then, exactly what was it I was having — that interlude — the scrambly madness — all that time I had before?”
~ Douglas Coupland, Life After God
My daughter is turning 6 in March. She is beyond excited. This morning she asked me how many days until her birthday.
“Twenty-one days, “ I answered.
“21?!?” she exclaimed. “That’s too long!”
It’s funny how when we are young, we cannot wait to get older. “When I turn , I’ll finally be able to do !”
But then a shift happens. Suddenly, we want time to stop. For me, it happened when I was 29. I remember crying for two weeks before my 30th birthday. At that time, I felt as if life was all downhill from there. I knew then that my body would never be as nimble, flexible or as pliant as it once was when I was a mere 25 year old girl. I realized that I would have to start competing in the “senior division” at the Kung Fu tournaments. I also figured out that my knees had turned into a fairly accurate weather predictor. I knew from the amount of pain and pressure I would feel in my knees on any given day if precipitation was to be expected.
I became more aware of the passage of time, and how once lost, we can never get it back.
I spent most of my 20s, 8 years to be exact, loving and pining for a guy, my first love, who had left me when I was 25 and had never looked back.
I spent my 30s stuck in a loveless marriage to a man who did not deserve not even one day of my life.
And here I am now, in my early 40s, and feeling no confidence in myself or trust in my judgments. And unlike my daughter, I am not looking forward to my next birthday. In fact, instead of looking forward to the future, I would much prefer to go back in time. Back to a time when I could not wait for the future, rather than being fearful of and dreading it as I do now.
I am afraid that I will squander my 40s. I am afraid that I will wake up when I am in my 50s and realize that I still don’t know what I want out of life.
I am afraid that the issues that do not seem so important to me now, will be of paramount importance in the future, and at a time when I will no longer be able to do anything about it.
Basically, I feel old and afraid. And it’s the scariest feeling in the world.