Farthest from the Sun

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So the marble we all share made another trip around the fireball, and thus I am one year older.

Mercury, that fleet-footed orb, goes around in 88 Earth days. The ball of gas Neptune takes 165 Earth years. Relative, indeed, the year.

Age has always been a bit of a funny mystery to me, because I don’t actually know how old I am.

In grad school, a dear friend once gave me a card celebrating my 50th, and I whooped with delight. (Because I’m wasn’t 50 then and I’m not 50 now and hahahahahaaaaaaa!!)

My age is likely a pretty good approximation. Some people who were adopted as older children have later discovered their age was off by years. Their records were deliberately misleading, in a lot of cases. But that’s another area of murk.

As I’m around longer, I find myself bristling at various concepts that try to use age as an anchor for adults. She doesn’t dress her age. He’s not acting his age. Pfffffft. As if age, really, ever, had anything to do with it. Who cares if a woman with white hair and wrinkles is wearing a short, pleated skirt? She must like it, and it’s really no one’s freaking business. Who gives a shit if some middle-aged guy with no kids geeks out over comics?

Age tends to function as a benchmark, a way for folks to make sure they’re on track. By 25, I should have accomplished ________. By 40, ___________. But what if we were all happy Neptunians, and no one lived to be a year old? What then? Maybe life would be measured in experiences. As a baby, that would be your New Experience. And as you grew and developed, if you were lucky, you always kept a sense of that with you. Like, when you got to your End Experience, if you still found pure delight in new discovery, you would also still be in your New Experience. And all the stuff that happened in between would simply be more information, more data, more context, more curiosity, more creativity.

If we didn’t count the years, if we didn’t consider some of them “peak,” or “prime,” or “the best,” I wonder what we could accomplish. You wouldn’t fear some approaching number. I’m willing to bet we would tend to look forward with greater ease. Because what would lie ahead would be full of possibility, not just arthritis.

So for now, I’m going to be a Neptunian. A Neptunian in the midst of her Mind-Opening Experience.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Bobbie on November 9, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Interesting you should write about birthdays, I planned on doing the same but later for a reason. While you have the mystery of not knowing your birthday, I have the quandary of always forgetting mine. For me, I never had a birthday party in all of my history. Those milestone days that you mentioned that mark the periods we look forward to, 16th, reaching 21, the big 3-0, the big 4-0, none of those days registers with me. It soon became a point where even when I was with that other person, she forgot my birthday, heaven forbid if I were to forget hers. I resign myself to the fact that I would go through this life not celebrating one so I put it out of my mind or rather placed in far down in my brain that when the day rolls around, I don’t think about it and as the years moved on, I forget how old I am. For me, it is no longer an important day, just a reminder that it was never a special day. I do feel for you though, not knowing your actual birth date, only an approximation. Maybe one day with all of this new DNA genetic testing technology coming into a more precise science, your date could be actually discovered.

    Reply

  2. As somebody who is fearing an approaching number, I find that counting my age in Neptunian ‘years’ to be a welcome way of handling my age. Thanks! I am now looking forward to my next ‘New Experience’!

    Reply

  3. I fully realize I’ve aged past the line where wearing the clothes I wear and doing the things I do are no longer cool but bordering on ridiculous. It has given me a greater understanding of those “old people” I snickered at in my youth. I choose the ridiculous ’cause to do otherwise would not to be my true self.

    Reply

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