Lately, I’ve been having fun discovering. Or, better written, rediscovering. A start to a new year can be stressful. Plans for the new year, ambitions, fears. But especially, fears. Fears regarding the passing of time. As we grow older, we become more aware of the passing of the time. I had forgotten about that!
I forgot that, when I was myself a child, the people around me had an age that defined their identity. Uncles, aunts, grandparents, parents, they all were big. And in my vision, as a child, they had always been like that.
I remember the first time I realized that even adults had, at a certain time, been younger. It was right after I had pulled a trick that left me with my head rolled in a bandage. While visiting an old lady, I sat in an armchair slurping from a very fizzing bottle of Brifcor. Mom and the old lady were talking, and I – not totally swept away by the wonderful refreshment – was looking around. Suddenly, my eyes were caught by a framed black-and-white portrait on the chest of drawers. A young lady with the look of a movie star was smiling charmingly.
‘Mom, who’s she?’ I interrupted their conversation, pointing to the photograph.
‘It’s not nice to interrupt people while talking’, my mom said and continued by telling me that it was the old lady, in whose house we were then, when she was young.
I couldn’t believe it. The old lady did not look at all like the woman in the photo. It was a bit too thick! What could have happened to her? Why didn’t she look like the woman in the photo anymore?
‘I was beautiful when I was young, wasn’t I?!’ the old lady asked me.
‘Yes! Very’, I had replied in a rather gracious manner.
Actually, maybe mom had not lied to me. She used to show us pictures of her from the old times, but we always failed to see a great difference. For us, back then, mom had always been and continued to be young. With an implacability similar to the one of the feeling that we were never to grow old and remain children forever. Maybe this is the source to the children’s great wish to grow up. Today, I know that age is just a number. But only for the child. The adult has another perspective. For it is the adult that gives age such importance. On the contrary, the child plays with numbers as it knows best. On an abacus. The child moves the beads around, from right to left and from left to right and hopes that all its wishes will come true. At the age of fourteen, to receive a Husky dog as a birthday present. At twenty, to become an aviator. And at thirty, to become the president of the country. And after thirty, the numbers become unavailable. It’s the peak of maturity! And the peak of calculus.