Friday, December 11, 2009

Age difference; something to learn

Age is a subjective thing; a state of mind. It can be an attitude even. You often here the saying that it is not in the years but in the experience. Or is it really?

As a thirty-something who shares a class with people now at least ten years younger than me, I am starting to feel the difference. It never used to bother me before and I would not have batted an eyelid at the idea. I am fortunate enough to have maintained my youthful looks, or so I am told. It has to do with a combination of good genetics and a sound investment in skincare techniques and lifestyle. Naturally, I thought I would blend in well with my newly allocated peers. Things are not as straightforward as I thought they would be, however.

I have noticed that... pace has somehow slowed down. True, my mind still works overtime. It always did but my outlook along with it has changed. No more the impulse coupled with the inexperience followed by the valuable lesson to be learnt afterwards. Now, if there is an impulse, it tends to be backed up by an instinct to go ahead and act on it. A knowing awareness of what the chances are beforehand. The impulse seems to magically disappear if all this wisdom does not see it through. I do not seem to share my peers' enthusiasm on following a whim. reactions and conversation techniques have 'gone off' so to speak. I listen, hand on chin, to the banter of those around me. I struggle to edge in a word or sentence to feel like I am part of the scene but cannot seem to keep up. It is not even a matter of being on the same wavelength because most of the time we are not. It seems to be more of a matter of: been there, done that. The mundaneness of knowing what is come. A nonchalance and a shrug of the shoulder that I have begun to master and conceal quite well.

...things are too expected. I amaze myself at being one step ahead - all the time. A question is asked and the discussion takes off at bullet speed across and around the table. Ideas, questions, probing, suggestions all at once being thrown in the air, while my mind goes off on a different tangent and I come up with a different slant to the whole conversation. Momentary silence as the group considers the merit of what was just handed to them but then it is brushed aside as perhaps too ludicrous. Being democratic, I succumb and listen avidly to the intelligent and impressive solutions. When it is time for the teacher to actually take us through the answers, low and behold, my suggestions actually find a rightful place, without even any prompting from me. Fleeting glances of mild surprise are quickly dispersed with a casual acknowledgement. I am not challenged the same way I was while growing up as the youngest in my class in school and amongst my friends.

It is not all gloom though. I smile and am regularly impressed by the alert minds. The mature and professional outlook. The open-mindedness and the cultural understanding that perhaps their predecessors did not have. There is always something to learn and I have learnt to listen and observe. I have never been a preacher and now I find it best to sit back and let it all roll on; helping and coaxing along the way whenever the need arises. Perhaps with time I can learn to approach life like a twenty-something again. This time with the experience and maturity of a thirty-something.

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