I lay awake. An oscillating creaky noise, reminiscent of a boat too long in the water, stretching moldy tie lines as it swayed from side to side, prevented me from finding the rest I needed. I shifted my position, but no matter how or where I moved, I couldn’t eliminate the sound. It was a quiet noise, but not an ignorable one. Gradually, I accepted there would be no restful sleep this night. The sound, you see, it was coming from me.
I am death.
Too over the top? Okay, let’s just say I’ve been better.
The noise that has kept me awake for the last several nights is a mucous induced rattle in my nose and throat I can’t seem to shake. A bug has been floating around my office recently, and I guess, it was my turn to bring it home. Yay! Have I mentioned how much I hate being sick? But on the plus side, the whole not being able to sleep thing has given me ample time to think.
One of the blogs I regularly follow (The Spectacled Bean) recently posed the question: How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
Last week (with the exception of one epically terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day), I might have shaved a few years off. Would this be out of vanity? Maybe, but there wouldn’t be many physical clues. While I have a few gray hairs, overall it is much the same color as it was when I was born, and though I have noticed a wrinkle or two I can blame my lack of height for at least a portion of premature etching. (Looking up at everyone all the time is hard work). Therefore it would really come down to how old I feel mentally at any given time, which most of the time is fairly young.
I was feeling especially so when I attended a presentation with my husband’s rotary club. The guest of honor was a retired Rear Admiral from the United States Navy. He opened his presentation by talking about the crews that manned the flight deck. He asked the audience, many of whom were also retired, how old they thought the median age of the crew was. The answer was roughly nineteen and a half.
Nineteen and a half.
And they were responsible for multimillion dollar fighter jets.
At nineteen and a half, I was responsible for a very used car (which didn’t run most of the time) and getting to class on time. Way to make a person feel like an underachiever, Sir. The message the Rear Admiral was trying to make is that we need to trust the younger generation, something I know I have a difficult time doing at times. I’m sorry, but it can be hard to accept the people you babysat or whose diapers you once changed are now adults. It’s not that you aren’t capable – I know you are – it’s just that I remember when we couldn’t trust more than a few of you to walk down the hall with scissors (or worse – a capless marker).
He went on to talk about readiness and spoke of two ships. On one ship (not a US Naval vessel), hoses were a pristine white and fittings shone like the sun. The condition of other, a US ship, was a far contrast. On that ship, the hoses were worn, faded, and fittings, dented. Considering the beginning portion of the speech, and his emphasis on supporting the next generation, I was sure that the Rear Admiral was about to suggest that we weren’t spending enough – that our military was less than as ready as it could be due to inferior equipment.
I waited for the sales pitch.
Instead, the Rear Admiral made a different point entirely. The equipment showed signs of age, but that was a good thing. It meant it was used and used regularly.
Every now and then I give into a little envy. I look to people younger than me, who have accomplished so much in their short lives, and can’t help wishing my path looked more like theirs – less readiness and more doing-ess. The envy makes me question a few of my choices. Did I waste my time before? What would it have been like had I taken the chance on me sooner?
I’ll never know the answers, but I guess it really doesn’t make a difference in the long run. I am where I am now. I’ll kick this bug (I hope). I may yet conquer the world – who knows? (mid-day naps for everyone)! At least I know I am trying to take the helm. And while I sometimes feel I need a few more sick days than I used to or just a few extra hours rest, that’s just evidence that I’ve lived my life as I seen best.
It doesn’t matter how old I think I am.
Age is just a number.
It is only the experiences filling that time that matters.