A Jumpy Old Man

Age. A product of time that comes with experience, maturity, and knowledge. I think of growing old and imagine a man with increased love, decreased mobility, and an infinite amount of hope. 


This past week, I was taken off guard by something so utterly simple yet revealing. I was pulling into my parking spot at Publix late at night, in my headlights I saw a man with a white beard and a shopping cart. As I swung into the parking spot, I saw his eyes go wide and he jumped in fear. This didn’t compute in my brain. It brought to my mind an avoided topic in many of today’s social circles.


DEATH.


In society, I am finding a collective resentment towards age. Why? Because age leads to our fate. A slow taking of our bodies by the grave that will lead to one of the most avoided questions. What happens when we die? I found it so strange that the OLD MAN at Publix still jumped in the face of death. At this moment in time, I am in the form of a young man. But eventually, the days will add up into something of meaning. A life. However, the only way I see someone truly living, is if they thoroughly make peace with death and never turn back.


One of my favorite movie scenes is from “City Slickers.” Billy Crystal’s character finds himself turning 40 years old. He goes to his son’s career day and has to tell the kids what he does. He is a radio ad salesmen and ashamed of it. He gives a speech to the class saying… 

“Value this time in your life kids, because this is the time in your life when you still have your choices, and it goes by so fast. When you’re a teenager you think you can do anything, and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Your thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money and you think to yourself, “What happened to my twenties?” Your forties, you grow a little pot belly you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud and one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother…” 

This is a comedic scene from the movie, but it hits me because it accurately explains the timeline of the American life. We grow up, believe that we need something more to make us happy, we think we have time, and wake up one day to realize that we have lost our time. At this point, we are in danger. We forfeit our ability to live moment to moment. Our soul has died long before our body. 


I talk to many young people who say they don’t want to look back at their life and say that they wasted their younger years. I have thought long and hard about this and can say I don’t want to chase momentary pleasure today if it means forfeiting my older years.


In Ecclesiastes, it says, Yes, a wise man thinks much of death, while the fool thinks only of having a good time now. I find this to be something that we could all benefit from. No man can escape the slow rotting of our consciousness. Yet so few take the time to accept it. 


I don’t want to be the gray old man who isn’t ready to meet the match that awaits me at the other side of existence. I want to love here, love now, and smile when my time comes to go. 

Published by

Max Yelken

A young man looking for a sustainable life of adventure in a changing world.

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