January 16, 2015

This is the Best Possible Age to Be.

Young_old (800x219)

Do you know what the best possible age is?

I remember being 18 and hearing some friends in their twenties complaining about getting old. They reminisced about being 21 and pined for a youth already past. I thought it was faintly ridiculous to pine for one’s youth so soon. Now, at 23, I still think that.

But really, it is the notion of pining for a number that strikes me as irrational. The idyllic 18. That perfect 25. The incomparable 22. How can we ascribe so much value to a specific year, writing off all the rest? What is the source of this seemingly universal nostalgia for 21?

While bartending last night, I struck up a conversation with a customer. Forty-something, but I wouldn’t have guessed it. He asked me my age, and when I told him I was 23, he responded, “That is the best possible age to be.”

Most people I have met seem to have their own concept of this “best possible age.” For some it is 23; for others 45 (or 66 or five, etc. etc.), but to this ideal number they always ascribe a set of unique virtues.

Yesterday, I did not have the opportunity for a rejoinder, but I wanted to say:

What happened that year? What dizzying peaks of achievement did you reach, to have lost all hope of attaining them again? Why do you begrudge the memories that all the years since have etched on your body?

If 23 is the “best possible age,” what happens in a year? A slow, laborious decline into infirmity and death? No, thank you.

I think the best age you can possibly be is the age you are right now.

Just as there can be no better time than the present moment, I suspect there can be no quantity of years superior to that which you hold right now in the corners of your eyes.

I once met an 18-year-old girl with the face of a 40-something chain smoker. I have known countless practitioners of yoga and meditation who could have shaved a quarter century off their age without raising an eyebrow. Not that they would have wanted to. And therein lies the crux.

Why would you want to be any age but the one you are? These numbers and “best possible ages” have only as much power as we bestow them.

The only age I ever want to be, is the one I am. How about you?


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 Author: Toby Israel

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

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