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.