I saw a one panel comic a while back that I wish I could find again, because I thought it was excellent. It depicted two adults communicating, but kind of in an x-ray where you could see that inside they were just children trying to operate their adult bodies like puppets. I feel that pretty hard some days. While my body gets older, my mind stays pretty young.
You might have noticed that many of my blog posts revolve around, to a greater or lesser degree, how I felt when I was younger. This one will as well. Sorry. It’s just that it doesn’t seem so long ago that I was a very young man with a young man’s dreams. I wouldn’t say I was ever filled with hope. I think that goes against my very nature. I am always seeing the way things can go wrong before I do anything. But I will say that I had an image of an ideal future. And I will also say, with 100% certainty, this ain’t it.
That said, I don’t have a lot of regrets. I am learning to just be okay with how things turned out, and even seeing that, in many ways, my “ideal future” would not have been very ideal in reality had it come to pass. All the same, I do often feel like a kid trying to pilot an adult body through the world and hoping nobody notices.
Watching your body grow old is fucking weird. For many years, I had staved off the ravages of aging. As many of my peers started looking older, I stayed fairly young. My hair wasn’t falling out or turning noticeably white, I had no trouble keeping weight off, I wasn’t developing wrinkles. People would often guess my age 6-10 years younger than I was. I was pretty damn smug about it, if I’m honest. It became part of my personal identity.
But pride comes before the fall, so they say. And falling I am. I’m still not losing my hair, thankfully, but it is turning noticeably white. My facial hair is almost entirely white. I am having a harder time keeping weight off, as well. Though I am not fat, I have steadily gained weight in the past 5 years. I used to actually struggle to maintain weight, topping out at about 165 lbs. I always thought a lean 180 would be my ideal weight, but could just never get there. Well, I got there (aside from the lean part). Then I blew right past. I’m now sitting at 195.
The way I feel about my body cannot quite be labeled dysmorphia, but I do feel out of place in it now. When I look in the mirror, I’m seeing less of the person I think of myself as when I am not looking in the mirror. Does that make sense? I walk around feeling like I look a certain way, and then I see my reflection and am like, “Oh. Right. I’m that guy now.”
All of that said, I can accept this aging experience. The journey has been interesting so far, and I am sure it will continue to be. I get to share it with an amazing woman who makes me smile every day, contributing greatly to my facial wrinkles I am sure. While I am still not filled with hope, and am probably still incapable of ever being that guy, I do have a new vision for an ideal future. But unlike the visions of my youth, this one seems attainable. It involves reading and writing and living in a comfortable place. It involves accepting happiness for the simple life I lead, rather than always holding it up to the image of the life I thought I wanted. And perhaps that is the true gift of age, learning to make attainable goals.