My sell-by date

On a social media thread, someone mused, “I wonder if I had a sell by date, if it has passed.”

It caught me a bit. I don’t know this person and I have no context for whether they have lamented being old since they turned 26 or if they’re just being silly or what, so I’m not attributing any of the following to them, necessarily.

That said, this is a very cultural mindset. Youth (or at least the appearance of youth) is valuable. People (mostly women) spend enormous amounts of money on temporary and permanent ways to try to make themselves look younger once there’s any remote hint of them not retaining those characteristics naturally. Hair dye, makeup, plastic surgery.

The energy of youth is simultaneously envied and squashed. “I wish I had half her energy” versus punishing and/or medicating kids so that they will sit at desks all day. We seem not to understand that if we didn’t sit at desks all day and fuel ourselves poorly (fuel = food, drink, rest, incoming media), we would have much more energy than we have as well.

I’m reminded of a former coworker who biked 10 or 15 miles to work, and how much better he said he felt when he got home on biking days versus driving days. (That might not have been true the first week he did it. Takes time to adjust.)

The way we discard the old and elderly, it’s no surprise many of us fear aging. Compound that with how roughly we age as a result of our poor body maintenance habits and how resistant many of us are to any kind of change, and it’s a mess.

Oddly, we also discard the young as stupid; we just want to look like them. So other people can think we’re young and dismiss us as stupid?

The “high school is the best days of your life” mindset—which is similar to the sell-by date question—has always been repugnant to me. At best, it’s rude to tell someone that after these few years (that may or may not be particularly pleasant), the 60 or more to follow are lousy.

I don’t doubt that some people have had that experience. I also suspect that with a bit of a mindset shift, some of those rest-of-their-life years would have been much better.

My sell-by date? I don’t think I have one. Laughing at myself as I’m writing, because my train of thought as I wrote that was, “What food analogy would I use if I don’t have a sell by date? Maybe something fermented? I’d need to look that up. Oh, a Twinkie. Those things never go bad.” 

Comparing myself to a Twinkie! So many things wrong with that.

Anyway, I have had some periods of greatness in my life—and some equivalent ditches—but I can’t imagine that the last bit of greatness was the last one. There’s more in me to come, there’s more life to experience, and having wrinkles or creaky knees or reading glasses doesn’t change any of that.

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