Saturday, July 19, 2008


Is avoiding Germany. It's 10:30pm and it's not dark out yet. That is so not fair. I kicked the kid out to "go to bed" 'cause I had been hangin' out with him since 9am pretty much non-stop except when he made himself sparse while his mom and i were packing boxes...but i wanna go outside and play. Stuttgart. Stuttgart. Must. Get. To. Stuttgart. There's actually things to do there. (c:

So here's something that's plagued me for years. Seriously. I have a strong aversion to old people. And I mean that in a few different ways. Mainly, people who have a mindset that for whatever reason, life is broken into segments-childhood, the good years and the dreaded rest.

Now then, keep in mind, this is in no direct reference to any of the people who read or who are part of this blogging community because you are all examples of really cool people who seem excited that tomorrow is another day, not concerned. (c:

That being said-people of all real ages can be old. You'll recognize it by the "well, when I was young I used to blah blah blah." Why'd they stop? Sometimes there are legit reasons but even things like injuries or a stressful job or whatever can be rehabilitated, worked around, changed, incorporated, something. Just because we hit a certain age doesn't mean we have to suddenly forget all the things that we were doing when we were X years old.

I remember a few months before I left for Europe Part 1 I thought I had really lost my wits...I couldn't think straight. At all. Short term memory was gone almost entirely, to the point where it was embarrassing. I couldn't remember what I was doing, why I was doing it, who I had talked to recently, you name it. I was living in a whole 'nother world. The worst part, I didn't know why. I had no idea if it was stress, hormones, whatever. For all I knew I had literally gone nuts. My cerebral cortex took a nap. And, I was all emotion. Think Phinaes Gage except I was missing the railroad tie. So I did what any normal human would do...I sucked it up, went to a doctor and told them what my problems were. I thought it was my thyroid or a severe hormonal imbalance due to something else or whatever...the doctor, a man of about 45, said to me "well, you are getting older..." Older? That's the reason my brain went to shit? because I turned 25? You've got to be kidding me....I can't imagine what he would tell a man who came in in his 50's or 60's complaining of a sore knee. Well, you know, you are going to die soon....heh.

I'm digressing a bit, but it remains that people have a preconceived notion of what is "supposed" to happen or not happen when they/others reach a certain age. I get that we aren't all Duracell Bunnies designed to live forever in perfect health. Fine. But there's certainly no reason that I can see to become so fixated on the idea of a number or whatever that we change our lives and our thinking.

Back to my digression-I decided after this laughable answer to go to a Neuro-Psych. Not cheap, them guys. But, I went, the day before I was scheduled to get on a plane and leave, to figure out if I was crazy or not. We talked. We did memory tests. I aced them. He told me to get on a plane and have a good time and not worry about it. I did. I still can't explain why what happened, happened, nor can I say that I feel like nothing ever happened at all...but I'm pretty sure it had nothing to do with me being "older".

Maybe my intense relationship with all the ups and downs and whatevers coming to an end, maybe the weight of what I was anticipating to be one of the biggest choices I could make was stressing me out, maybe it was all the things going on rolled into one. It certainly wasn't worn out synapses and dendrites ready to shuffle off to buffalo.

And back to the point: I think the thing I get the most sick of hearing about is when people start griping about all the things they wished they'd learned when they were young. Well, what are you doing tomorrow? There's a junior college right down the street. I hear they have things called classes there. Or, better yet, if you're in KC (and probably elsewhere, i'm sort of ignorant sometimes), there's a thing called Communiversity, geared towards people who aren't probably going to quit everything for a second degree but would like to learn more or something new. Instead, people loaf around not learning anything-or worse, not reinforcing what they do know, and what happens? Their brains and their bodies tend to atrophy. I think I get especially pissed when I tell people that I'm learning other languages and they say "oh, well, it's too late for that. Study says you should do it between..." blah blah blah. Pardon me while my eardrums start to bleed.

You either want to learn or you don't. I argue that aside from some of the tonal languages because of the actual physiological and neurological things that have to happen from the beginning, any adult can re-route their thinking to that of when they were little to learn a language. Take away the pressures of day to day life, add complete and total patience of others to repeat and repeat and point and repeat and slow things down and associate action and pictures and objects with words over and over again like they did when we were little, and any adult can learn just as fast , as well and as thoroughly as any 3 year old.

I concede that I'm coming at this whole tirade from some very specific and privileged perches:

1. I'm 25. I'm sure everyone who's ever suffered later on thought life was ripe and for the picking when they were my age too

2. I have parents who are older than most-like my parents are basically the age of some people's grandparents, and or roughly the same age as people 20 years older than me-so this changes my perspective on what people can or cannot accomplish. My mom is amazing. I'm not disclosing ages but people think that she's a good 20 years younger than she is based on how she dresses, looks, acts, her interests, etc.

3. My grandmother on my mom's side turned 100 in January. Up until about...6 or 7 months ago, she lived by herself. In her own home. Taking care of herself. She's still going strong but she had some complications with glaucoma and the such that put a kink in the ways she does things. This is a woman who has not only had but recovered successfully from two falls-the kind that would kill most others. And she's funny. And lucid. And opinionated. I know where I get it from I guess.

I argue that all of these are due in part to good genes, ok fine, but also to the fact that most everyone in my life that others consider "old" are passionate about something. With my mom, it varies. With my grandma, it's religion. Whatever it takes to keep you interested, invested and active. I don't care. I'll put up with dogmas and getting huge envelopes stuffed with Good Housekeeping articles about gardening, eating natural and sun protection (thanks mom) if I have to if it means that the people in my life, who have shaped my life, continue to act in a way that keeps them plugged in.

I dunno, I just hope with everything that I am and with the motto of "actions must match intentions" that I can keep myself far away from the hypocritical side of this argument and look back when I'm however old and be truly confident that I did, learned, pushed and cared about everything and anything.

In Oryx and Crake Margaret Atwood writes a character named Crake. Without busting any plot bubbles, there's one idea I think sums my opinions up beautifully. He turns to Jimmy and says "immortality is just the unawareness of the end of life." Or something akin to that...

What with all my wizened years, exact quotes tend to escape me. Or I read too much.


Steve Malley said...

I think you're on to something. Me, I'll probably stick with my mix of ancient Himalayan breathing techniques and forbidden South American herbs...


Anonymous said...

Oh, well. There was once a time when I too was 25 and immortal.
Steve pass me the herbs. ;)

Truly, Larissa you have it right. A few years ago, I announced my desire to learn Spanish.
remember, I am Pakistani and no one but the Diplomats speak Spnaish here.
It was hard work explaining, there was no reason, other than some silly braincells ordering saying thats what I want to do.


Riss said... I gotta come to NZ and get me some of those. If I start early enough, you think I could reverse time all together? hehe. Actually..on second thought..I really don't have any desire to be 17 again. I'm just getting used to the idea of being allowed to drink, drive and cross the street without having someone hold my hand.

Usman (by the way, I knew it was you earlier..I just like calling you Mr. Reality hehe)-Good for you! (c: That's awesome. I'm glad you're going after what you want simply because you want it. And yea...silly braincells are worth listening to. (c:

Lisa said...

Aging really is 90% mindset and there is (whether those of us inhabiting our aging bodies are willing to recognize it or not) a concrete physical component that won't be denied. My best friend and I just had a "slumber party". She just turned 48 and I just turned 47. We talked a lot about where we are, where we've been and where we're going and I think there is a certain other worldliness to observing our own concrete aging. Neither of us can believe we are the age we are because mentally, we both still feel much the same way we did when we were in our twenties. I think the key is in recognizing that the world is always full of infinite possibilities. Part of what aging does (and how you choose to respond to this is entirely individual) is it forces us to look much closer at mortality. Some of us get cancer, have heart attacks, get strange ailments that we don't think we're supposed to get. These can either be a wake up call to recognize that life is going on right now, so live it up, or not. I knew people when I was in my twenties who were already old and it didn't have anything to do with chronological age. They physical manifestations of age do make themselves known eventually and that's ok. I can't stay up all night and bounce back the way I once did. One day I looked into the mirror and wondered where the crow's feet came from. I went out on "" to see the pictures of people I went to high school with and I can't understand who all of those old people are! For me, it's a process that I can see happening, but for some reason I feel like I'm watching it from the perspective of a detached observer. I wouldn't go back to my twenties for anything and my fifties don't scare me. I feel really fortunate to know a lot of people who are in my age group who are doing what they want to do and who are still on a journey -- they haven't parked it at what they think is their final destination.

Riss said...

Lisa-thank you for such a wonderful comment. There's a lot I want to say in return and I'm trying to find the right words so I'm not sure how this will come out--Maybe with an anecdote. I met a guy named John Cleary in Ireland. He's 99 years old. His wife, 20 years younger, is in St. Brendan's care center for Alzheimer's. We waltzed together while I was there with some friends of mine (both old enough to be my parents)while they played music for the residents. (john and I) They still have a really wonderful relationship. Both of them have this rich and positive outlook on the situation to the point where they can joke with each other and live life as it comes. John is a good example of someone who, while yes, has a certain reality he has to face, he has also learned how to approach all of life with a method that shows me so many things I can't put them into words without using cliches. The words "inner light" and "celebration" come to mind but I refuse to use them hehe. He talked about his life and experiences and stuff and we talked about current stuff that was going on and not only did we listen to each other, we respected each other. All this aside-the fact that life really is, in a lot of ways, full of infinite possibilities is the thing that is most often forgotten. People decide that this is what happens next and then they forget to look left or right to see if there's another option. :D

Anonymous said...

Hi Riss,

Mr. Reality sound cool. Everyone else calls me Usman. So go ahead Ms. Riss.


Riss said...

Mr. Reality it is. :D