Ladies and gentlemen and boys, if there be any at this time, and girls. You must all forgive me. I’m a bit under the weather today. What with everyone wishing me the New Year and all, I haven’t been myself since 2:30pm today, and no chance of getting better in the foreseeable future. But 2017 was the year I turned fifty. It must have been a memorable year for me, I think. Fifty is old.
Fifty is old. It is not middle aged, as many people who are fifty like to believe- how many people do you know who are a hundred? Most people die circa eighty or less, forty is middle aged. Fifty is old. Not old-old. Fifty is young-old. I am a young-old man.
Do not misunderstand me. I have no issues about being old. These past fifty years have been singularly trouble free, almost boring, so I can honestly say I’m luckier than all ninety percent of human being who have walked this earth.
But you feel It coming. It is fascinating to see Time creep up slowly, twinges of the gathering cold in my autumn, knowing that the coming winter is permanent, that there are no more springs waiting to come. The bad left knee aches after exercise. I wear glasses to operate. The asthma slowly gets worse.
I must digress at this juncture from my main theme to speak about ageism, that discrimination towards older people so rampant it is almost unnoticeable. Everyone wants to be young. The hundred year old thinks being ninety is good. Everyone wants to be young at body, but this is difficult after about forty, so they try to be young at heart. It is a myth to live by, for one’s heart is exactly as old as one’s body. A comforting myth. Death seems to be a little more far away.
You can hardly open a newspaper these days before finding an ad inviting you to wear a toupee for looking younger. Or paint your hair and feel younger. Or ride a motorcycle. Or wear a particular brand of underwear. How an average forty year old can cut anything but a repulsive figure wearing only underwear is a mystery which will likely remain unsolved through the ages. Beware all you who lust for everlasting youth, it is a myth and, what is worse, you will look silly in your pursuit.
Compliments now. The highest praise is to tell someone that they look younger than they really are, as in, you look like a teenager (gush). As though teenage was a much to be desired station in life. It never once felt good to me. I had the most horrible time in the world as a teenager, and it is utterly baffling now to see otherwise normal people go through all sorts of contortions- balancing toupees, painting hairs, lifting faces- to look like one.
Which year should I sacrifice for my Yayatihood? The year I married? The one I got my first job? My first child? Not one of the happy ones, please. One of bad ones then? No, they were my most instructive years, failures are the most memorable teachers. Which ones should I let go?
I wouldn’t give up any of my fifty really, not one month, not a day, a single fleeting hour. I will keep all of them, thank you, and look all of fifty. Young-old, not old-old.
Which brings me to the most important insight I had this year. In 2017 I discovered the purpose of life. I cracked the code, yes, the one every religion strives for, every scientist, every man who thinks beyond selfishness. But unlike them all, I will give it to you, gentle reader, and all for free.
What then is the purpose of Life? The purpose, ladies and gentlemen, boys, girls, is to grow old and die. There is no higher purpose.
The large majority of us will not do anything remarkable, anything which will change the world. The older we are the less likely we will. The ones who did, like Napoleon and Einstein and Jesus and Hitler, did it when they were young. There are exceptions, like Gandhi. But in the larger scheme of things what do these achievements account for? Who will remember Gandhi after five thousand years? Ten thousand? These are smalltime. What if we look at larger timescales? The life of our planet? Our Sun? The galaxy, our universe? Do we even count?
The purpose of life, therefore, is to grow old and demented and die, unless of course one dies young. In the light of these new findings I propose, for the year 2018, to institute a number of small steps to make things easier on my fellow human beings, in anticipation of the future. Please note that this is entirely out of love for my future caretakers. In my demented old age I will be utterly unselfish. Dementia is nirvana, enlightenment.
As an initial step I propose to wear a diaper for most of 2018. This will be of practical benefit to me in the short term- prostates enlarge in the fifties, a long bus trip can be made without fear. In the long term, wearing a diaper will get me accustomed to the coming winter. Those who have cared for an old relative will understand this immediately. You see the dear old thing shitting in his or her pants. Or peeing in bed. You attach an adult diaper to the wreck and what happens? Why, the dear old thing takes it off as soon as you have tied it on.
Do your loved ones a favor this year. Wear a diaper. Get used to it. Let this be your new year resolution. Don’t back off. Wear it to work. Take it on that road trip. Think of your children, or at least the nurses in your future old age home. Just do it.
Happy New Year.