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On Age

By: James McAfee

As a baby boomer, the concept of aging is foreign to me on many levels. First, I spent my childhood sitting under a desk protecting myself from the nuclear bombs that I was told where going to rain down on me. These bombs where going to put an end to a short but fun filled existence. No need to buy insurance or plan for retirement. I completely bought the concept of a nuclear holocaust.

Now, imagine my surprise as the decades have rolled by. No nuclear war on the horizon, just old age getting closer and closer.

I suppose the real problem about getting older is that you just never feel it inside of you. Sixteen or Sixty feels the same when you look out of your eyes. My father used to tell me that the guy in the mirror in the morning still looked young to him. He was seventy-five when he told me that. When my Grandmother died at ninety-four, she told me that ninety-four years hadn't been enough time.

Ninety-four years not enough, how can that be? Maybe, that is because time changes depending on which direction you look at it.

I remember being twelve. The year between twelve and thirteen took forever. I also remember being thirty-nine. The year between thirty-nine and forty flew by in the blink of an eye.

And when I look backward on my life, it seems that I have been riding a run-a-way freight train. The closer I get to ninety-four the faster the train moves. Or is that all an illusion?

Time, what the devil is it anyway? Scientists and philosophers have been arguing the question for millennium. To the best of my knowledge these learned men and women have come to no conclusion. Perhaps, the science fiction writers have come closest to the explanation. Time is a dimension. A place which we can move in and out of but never stay put in.

So why is it, that we give something with no real explanation that it even exists such power over us? It guides our lives, we choose a mate, decide which styles to wear, and know when we are expected to die; all based on time and where we find ourselves on some imaginary time line.

What do I mean by an imaginary time line? What exactly is time? On this planet, time is based on traveling around our sun. That's it. That is all it is. Our planet requires 365 days or almost to take a trip around the Sun. We as a species have determined to call that trip, a year. I sometimes wonder how other animals gage their ages. Do dogs look at another dog, and say to themselves, “no, not that one she looks too old?” Or perhaps, they think to themselves, “I would love to run up that hill, but I think I am just too old, I'll look silly.” No, I don't think so. Animals gage each other by looking and sensing the physical prowess of another. No need for birthdays.

Is it possible that the real punishment for eating that apple in Paradise was birthdays? The tyranny of birthdays is hard for us to escape. At some point they end our childhood, at another point they make us too old to become parents, and in their final act, they tell us when we are too old to be alive.

Must it always be so is their no way to escape?

If time lives only truly in our imagination, then perhaps we can adapt our imaginations to a different reality. After all, time on earth is based on those simple trips around the sun. Therefore, time would have a different reality on a different planet. So, if we think of ourselves as space travelers, we might change reality for ourselves. The following chart may help you see my point.

Planet Time in a Solar Year
Mercury 115.88 days
Venus 224.7007 days
Earth 365.-24219879
Mars 687 days
Jupiter 12 years
Saturn 29.6 years
Uranus 84 years
Neptune 164.8 years
Pluto 248.430 years

If you are finding your age not to your liking, simply recalculate based on someone else's planet. For me Mars will do just fine, at least for now. Mars has 687 days between birthdays. Now, take your age, let's say you are 40. Multiply 40 times 365, this calculation will tell you how many earth days you have lived. In this case 14,600 days equal 40 years. For this example, please ignore leap years. Now divide the 687 Mars days into your 14,600 Earth days. This calculation will give you an age on Mars of 21.251819 years.

Now, even if you round that up to 22 doesn't it make you feel younger? So, the next time someone is impolite enough to ask your age, simply smile and reply “On Mars I am 22, you do the math.”

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