It took many of my years to catch up to them but most of them are gone and now I find myself among the “them.” Does age do that?
I’m older than the president of the United States, 10 years closer to the pope and 20 years older than that Florida upstart who hopes to govern the country. (Not the real “Mario” from New York whom I miss, bless his soul, but the other Mario.)
It was so easy growing up and blaming all those “oldsters” who either didn’t understand or were just old. “Just wait until I grow up!” we said solving all the world’s problems in our slowly growing brains. (Did you know the brain is still growing at 20 years?)
I was with a Catholic bishop today who’s twelve years below me but way higher than I job I would want. That surprised me. He’s supposed to be that old guy with little hair and wearing a belt he hasn’t seen in years with a young priest accompanying him. If I was telling him a story and used a song as an example, like the “Five Staircase” singing, “Ooh, Child,” I fear he would give me that bishopric smile suggesting it’s time I find a nice home in the second Mario’s state and call it quits.
This short flirt is not about that bishop but my awareness that age does make a difference now that I continue this aging thing. Age uses experience to teach along with lots of anecdotes and cute, often long stories that few care about. Wise aging (adjective carefully chosen) is always accomplished in the assimilation, discernment and reflection of life and its deeds.
Assimilation: like a puzzle taking history’s pieces and assembling and reassembling them that forms a formula for the future. To miss one piece can be hazardous. (Jeb: “Let’s do Iraq one more time since my dad’s still alive!”)
Discernment: a word rarely used but often in religious life. Thinking of your past, your present and then projecting. Weaving through your life to uncover your life.
Reflection: after any event or person has occurred this is the most difficult, to be able to look back as objectively as possible and see the mistakes and the successes and to identify the gaping holes that need to be filled the next time around. (And to always begin reflection’s reflective sentences with “I”. That “him/her” or “it” are far gone by now.)
My brain is no longer developing, most days I suspect it’s starting to shrink but then I realize that “they” are no longer “they” but they are me. I may not enjoy their authority and prestige of the younger “they” but all this aging stuff I truly enjoy. After all, I just came up with three good “three’s.”