You wake up one morning and you realize that youth is gone. Those days sped by too quickly --- that you were either too busy to realize that your "younger and more careless days" have gone or you were thinking much older than your age that you completely forgot how it is to be young at all.
Whatever which way, what they all said before was true.
Youth speeds by --- and is wasted on the youth. One thing is that you actually believed that youth was going to last forever ... or you kept procrastinating on being young because you always wanted to get ahead of everybody. Unfortunately when you finally decided to do all the things you always wanted to do you realize that it doesn't look or feel all that good at all. Or you don't have the energy to do half of what you should have done when you still had the strength to do it.
For instance, there must be a deadline, a cut-off age when anyone can wear carrot-cut or skinny jeans.
There comes a certain point in both the male, female or even gender bender's life when wearing skinny jeans becomes a death-defying act of courage --- or ridicule. Maybe there should also be a law passed by Congress that sets a maximum age limit for women to wear leggings or jeggings or whatever it is you call that aberration of fashion. It is either that or a minimum penalty tantamount to bail can be posted by anyone who chooses to dress in a fashion meant for people half their ages --- with sincere hopes of impersonating youth.
Well, there are certain cases when the violation of other people's sensibilities reach the level of the criminal. Or the criminally insane. There is a difference between keeping young ... from desperately clinging onto youth.
But, of course, there are those who would say that age is just a number. You are as old as you think you are --- or you make yourself to be. And there is also such great truth in that.
Perhaps the worst thing that you can ever do to yourself is when you keep insisting that you should act your age. When you come to think of it, how should we behave anyway at any given point in our lives? It is all a matter of knowing exactly what you want, where you want to go ... and who you want to be. More so, it has got everything to do with who you have become.
Unfortunately, to arrive at very definite conclusions about all these is a lifelong task.
Because the point is that until the day we die we will still be asking ourselves as to who we are --- or what we have become --- or what else we can be. This is something that should not have age limits --- becoming. As long as you can still become someone else --- something else --- or whatever --- then you still keep the right to live.
That is if you choose to have a life and not be chained to having a living. Those are two things so completely different from one another: having a life and having a living. Some people mistake their means of living as their lives. That doesn't really leave much of a life for them. Ask me: I have been there: once upon a time I believed that I was only as good as the work I created or how much applause I received or how much money I can stow in the bank.
Now I realize that it is really a lot of crap. I know people far richer than me who actually think they are alive but are just a notch above being zombies to their work.
I can also tell you stories about some of my colleagues who are so much younger than me but who have sacrificed their lives for their careers (because they want to believe that their validation can come if they are good, obedient soldiers) and I will tell you what they went through while undergoing chemotherapy.
And how did they get there? Because they stagnated while deluding themselves that they are growing.
You have to keep on asking --- because you keep on changing. And by changing, you are growing. Oh, and we can go into all those arguments about the only constant thing in life is change, blah, blah,blah ... then swim into a cesspool of cliches. Regardless. It's true. You cannot be the same person for more than two years.
I have always believed that to keep people interested in you, you must be interested in yourself.
You stop being interesting when you start thinking of nothing more but yourself --- or how great you are --- or how much money you have made --- how many cars you own --- and how you have enough Hermes and Louis Vuitton bags to last you for the next five reincarnations. Because, my dear, there is another truth that has been told and retold a zillion times before and it will only hit you when you reach that age when you start burying friends and peers. No amount of karats, Birkins and trust funds can guarantee you heaven --- or even impressive memories among the living that you have left behind.
You cannot take any of the living proofs of one's mortal success when you finally become (as Professor Keating of Dead Poets Society said) "food for marigolds." They actually mean nothing ... because all that really matters is just how much you make out of your life and what you make do with the years that have been loaned to you.
And that again is what makes life all so beautiful and interesting.
That is why my most miserable moments in life are when I feel I need to do something interesting with myself and I can't figure out what it is that I should do.
Admittedly, I get bored doing the same thing over and over again --- that I tell myself that if I cannot move onto to another phase at my age and after all the years that I have been doing more of the same, then what is the point?
There is nobody to blame but myself for it because ... oh, come on, let's face it: we cannot go through life blaming somebody, everybody or any body for our personal frustrations and failures.
You are who you are at any given point in time because you allowed it to be so.
You made the decisions that eventually got you there. You may have committed mistakes (but who doesn't?) but you don't marinate in your own miserable juices feeling sorry for yourself. Instead, you learn. Then you do what you are supposed to: you move on --- hopefully with stronger and with more wisdom. It's sounds as simple as that although in practice it is not. But that is the way it is.
Nothing is more pathetic than a drama queen who validates his or her existence by sharing his or her sob stories to others without any process of learning whatsoever. That does not warrant admiration but admonition. Anyone who is addicted to weeping is such a loser ... that it is also this creature's decision to be a magnet for tragedies.
So what am I really trying to say?
Youth goes away too fast, beauty dissolves too easily through the years and science can only help you to a certain extent.
When all beauty fades, you only have Botox and all the available technology to aid any form of preservation but more likely than not --- you end up nothing more than beautifully preserved like something out a taxidermist's workshop.
When all else goes away, what you realize that indeed there is nothing wrong with the natural process of aging because we all go through this --- and what is important is that we do it with dignity and with enthusiasm and excitement.
I will be fifty-eight years of age in a matter of hours and I have come to realize a lot of things:
(A) If I were leading a normal nine-to-five job, I would be up for forced retirement in two years by Philippine Labor laws.
(B) I can no longer boogie for thirty-six hours straight without ending up really cranky and resembling somebody who is either undergoing critical hot flushes or suffering from a dangerous personality disorder.
(C) I am out of the market as far as the dating department is concerned because in a highly digitized youth oriented world, anyone past the age of 35 has worldly use only as fertilizer.
(D) My capacity for patience has diminished tremendously because I feel it is a waste of time to tolerate just so much of stupidity, incompetence or even vapidity.
So that was when I realized I could take the dangerous route of being a cranky Uber Bitch quite typical of any menopausal mammal who is saddled with textbook hormone imbalance.
That was also the time I accepted the fact that wisdom comes with age --- together with certain necessities like Metamucil, supplements like Vitamin E, Lecithin, garlic oil, fish oil and Vitamin C overloads.
But again ... so what? If there was one big resolution that I am most proud of was the fact that seven years ago, I decided to go back to the gym ... and has stuck to that routines at least four times a week ( and sometimes hitting the workout space as much as six times when my schedule permits it) for at least two hours per session.
A friend of mine asked, "What the hell are you doing to yourself? Do you actually believe you can still train for the 2016 Olympics?" But I have a much higher goal: I am self-indulging. I am doing this for nobody but myself because I owe it to myself ... even at 58 ... no, because I am turning 58. I want to be better looking at 58 than I was at 48 or even 38! When I join the spinning classes at Fitness First and see kids half my age unable to last the 45 minutes high impact cardiovascular exercises, I smile proudly and tell myself, "You have done well, Old Man. You are doing very, very well."
Another big change I put into my life five years ago was when I decided to stop smoking.
I found it stupid to keep my nicotine addiction while indulging in non-stop workouts at the gym. That seems to be an exercise not only in contradiction but also self-deception. I did not require nicotine patches, electric cigarettes or even a guru to tell me to kick the habit. I just stopped.
It did not require the the implementation of the Sin Tax for me to throw away my Philip Morris packs and only use my Flick lighters for the tea candles used in aromatherapy. I simply thought of myself ... and learned to love myself far much more than any dependence substance to make my life any easier. Loving yourself is a far better solution to turn your existence into something delightful... certainly not the smell of tobacco that clings onto clothes, curtains and even the lining of your mouth.
My biggest validation does not come from trophies that, after about an hour of celebration, lands on a shelf to collect dust and which people forget what the hell they were there for.
My biggest joys do not come from all the praises I receive because of my work ... and not because of who I am.
I am turning 58 in a few hours and I think I have found a better definition of fulfillment.
A number of months ago, I was invited to a dinner at the Canadian Ambassador's residence together with a bunch of extremely interesting and intelligent people gathered for the purpose of discussing the effects of social media. I precisely remember the Ambassador's assistant seated beside Karen Davila and the subject of conversation led to my age. When I was asked how old I was, I smiled and said (rather proudly), "Oh, I am fifty-seven."
Both Karen Davila and the Ambassador's assistant were stunned. The Canadian diplomatic officer said, "What? No way!"
I smiled. Yes, and I am turning 58. And I have decided to be very, very happy. I have a life.
I can actually fit into a pair of skinny jeans and not look ridiculous. And I know as long as I love the life I choose to live, then I shall be ... well, yes: ageless.