This has happened to all of us. One night you go to sleep and in the morning you wake up and, poof! You are 30 years old. Oh no! The last days of your youthful life have come to an end, and now you feel as if you have to rush and get the “adulthood” ball rolling. As you enter this new phase, you tell yourself that 30 is the new 20, in an attempt to not feel so “old”. Wrong. 30 is still 30, just like the myth of 50 being the new 40–try telling that to the rest of your body. You see, here in the West, we grow up thinking that being old is not as cool as being young, or the older you get the more useless you are. We believe that the old hinder the youth, or a nuisance like a baby accompanying a newlywed couple on their honeymoon. But we’ve got it all wrong.
The media has made us believe that youth is eternal, or we can at least pretend it is. Being young and looking young becomes a daily goal, even when the individual leaves home. Despite maturity and independence there is a struggle for to embrace aging. Face cream to take off what years of worrying and pondering have created, hair dye to cover the snow of wisdom that grew with every mistake one has made and learned from, and clothes that belie one’s age, but only to an extent. Why has this happened? There was a time when getting older was an honor. The mature among us were respected, revered and sought out for advice. Today, the love of being young has trumped being old and wise. Why has this society embraced the Peter Pan syndrome? I remember the old Toys-R-Us commercial where the theme song went, “I don’t want to grow up, I wanna be a Toys R Us kid”.
In the commercial you see grown people playing with toys and acting like children, fathers and mothers enjoying themselves in the manner of children. This jingle would play in my head throughout my whole childhood as an anthem that would shape my perception of how an adult should act and should be–an over-sized kid. We are all victims of this backwards notion. It does not matter if you are a homeowner with three children or a single bachelor, or a college student. We have this idea that if we are not playing, being entertained, or doing something fun that we are getting old and life is getting too serious. But life is not about the games we play or seeking to fill the “boring” moments with mindless entertainment. But to embrace age as a privilege and a blessing is not done by many. I pray that people will start to view aging as a blessing from the Creator, more time allotted to us to do good deeds and sow blessings in this life.
We have to stop this disease of looking down upon our elders and instead lower the wing of mercy towards them. Look to them for guidance, and realize that we will one day be in their shoes, if God wills it. To stop worshipping youth culture and faltering when it comes to our responsibilities as adults. Time is not the enemy, the denial of it is.
Ali is a Brooklyn-born and raised father of three, married and currently residing in Southern California. He is an avid cook pursuing a career in construction and handy-works.