As time goes by
Exactly who is Mark Macapagal kidding? His Old is in in the Manila Times today reads much like what you say to yourself on your birthday when you are depressed and feeling, well, old.
Do people really feel better that they are older? Oh, come on. Perhaps some do, but surely in Macapagal’s paean to senescence, he is guilty of some misrepresentation, to say the least, of the virtues of youth.
I remember one professor, in a side note to a lecture on the young and impetuous Alcibiades ( who famously tried to seduce Socrates and probably inspired The Symposium ), said to our class that we should read as many books as we could while still young and matriculating because we would have no more time to read when we get older. (If only I took his advise to heart and didn't spend so much time daydreaming then ! ) The professor added that in no time again would we find ourselves as curious, as intuitive and as good-smelling. And true enough, now that I am older I find myself not as curious, not as intuitive and certainly not as good-smelling as I used to be. Also, did not Turgenev say something about that bittersweet depression that only the very young can feel?
If we were to tabulate the virtues of the young and old, which tally would end up more substantial in our estimation? The vampires had the best of both worlds: the looks and the agility of the young, and the hoary experience of the old. But that means, of course, we would have to drink blood in exchange. I am presently reading Bill Clinton’s My Life and there was this part there where Clinton recalls an old friend from college as saying:
“You know…life is organized backwards. You spend the best years studying, then working. When you retire at sixty-five, you’re too old to enjoy it. People should retire between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-five, then work like hell till they die.”
Oo nga naman. That way you maximize the virtues of youth when you are still young and the virtues of age when you are old. A happy solution that, unfortunately, can never be.