Why Nobody Wants To Be Called Middle-Aged

 

Has anyone ever sat down and wondered at their old photos? It’s my lovely little sister’s sixteenth birthday today, and so we’re sat around, looking at photos from when we were both just tiny tots. And it’s hilarious. I was a victim of the perpetual bad hair day, and my sister just looked like a thug, with the biggest baby head I have ever seen. She also had an adorable little top-knot. It made her look a little bit like a teletubby. Does anyone remember tellytubbies? I used to quite like them.

I also quite enjoy looking at what your parents used to look like, twenty years ago before your teenager strops and tantrums turned them grey, or bald, or thin, or fat. It’s even more strange to look at them in long-forgotten holiday photos, before you were born, when your Mum was still blonde, and your Dad carried a slightly more svelte figure than you’ve ever seen. It’s really, really weird when you realise your mother was the dead spit of you, and therefore you catch something of a glimpse at what you will look like in middle-age.

I always think the phrase ‘middle age’ has slightly negative connotations. The Middle Ages, in Britain at least, were dark, and smelly, on the whole. Technology hadn’t begun to advance, and people had come to something of an intellectual standstill. Illness was rife, death was more common than a bucket of sewage on the head, and to add to this predicament, religious order was still a serious issue. As in, well, there wasn’t one. I think I’ve found the reason why nobody likes to be referred to as middle-aged.

And then there’s the problem of after middle-age. Old. Elderly. An older person. Nobody would ever want to be referred to as old, and I can imagine being unbelievably irritated if somebody had referred to me as old, even if I was about ninety-six years old. Anyway, I have to go, and carry on my excursion down memory lane. I apologise for my collection of thoughts on age; I’ve never known what it’s like to be old, but I suppose one day, it’ll creep right up on me.

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On Absence

Dying, I suppose, is an inevitable part of being alive. We write about death all the time; in our speech, we say “I’m gonna kill you”; “Oh, I feel like death…”, and so forth. We never really appreciate the full gravitas of what we say. This isn’t just limited to death however; we misunderstand, or at least fail to appreciate the full significance of an idea, or a word, on a regular basis. We just never realise the full potential of what we are saying.

However, when people do disappear, whether they die, or you just lose contact with them, it’s an inexplicable feeling. It’s horrible, because you feel like something is missing. And that’s reasonable, because something is missing. There’s a part of your life that has changed; that change is often set in stone, and that’s just a part of life. People change on the basis of loss, and how they cope with it.

Humans are incredible to the extent that we can adapt to a hostile environment, and change accordingly. We wouldn’t be able to exist on a planet that fundamentally exists on the basis of change if we couldn’t; we have to just roll with the punches, and salvage what we can from the mess we leave behind us. Even the most hygienic, tidy and scrupulous human being leaves mess in their wake. I’m not talking about leaving tea cups, crisp packets and toast crumbs behind you; I mean emotional mess; the stack of relationships, friends, people that we find in our wake. We always have an impact on the people we care about. We also have an impact on people we barely even recognize.

Equally, our people leave us in their wake; they change our expectations of the world around us, for better, or for worse. We have to know what it means to be sad in order to be a whole, rounded person. People that are perpetually happy, all the time won’t know how strong they are until they have to come back from something vile, something impossible. You cannot possibly know how strong you are until you have to be strong.

So people, in absence, is terrifying, horrible; it is impossibly cruel. Especially when people are young, and they die far, far too young. People lose their kids, their wives, and their husbands. Those people are full of a strength that people have to find for themselves; it cannot be learnt, and it cannot be studied from a book. “A degree from the university of life”, one might say. Because that’s what it is; it’s life, and life is scary. I don’t know very much about life; I’m eighteen. But I know a little bit, just enough to know it’s scary, and the things I have seen barely scratch the surface of the things I may see, one day.

I think then, in conclusion, you should say what you think; appreciate people. Know that you have to be sad sometimes, in order to be strong. That’s the really hard part. Standing up and realising that life goes on, whether you want it to or not. I suppose you just have to appreciate life, and the fact that you’re in it, whilst you can. Do stuff; be something, and don’t waste it.

“Did you say it? ‘I love you. I don’t ever want to live without you. You changed my life.’ Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work towards it. But every now and then, look around, and drink it in. Because this is it. And it might all be gone tomorrow.” – Grey’s Anatomy

I realise the quote is horribly cheesy, directly quoted from television drama; but I still think it’s a very nice message to put across.

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