I’ve been feeling a bit dyspeptic today, and I worry that I’ve gotten cancer or a blocked colon or my appendix is ready to burst poison all over my system. And yet, unlike most other hypochondriacs, I quickly convince myself that it’s nothing and definitely not worth seeing a doctor about. Maybe there’s a physiological reason for my medical denial. No, I’m sure it’s nothing.
But it does make me wonder about time. At times I automatically think of myself as the same person I was when I was 16–or even think of myself as still 16–but today’s 16-year-olds were just being born back when I was a 16-year-old. I don’t want to devolve this into me sitting in a darkened living room listening to some Pink Floyd album on headphones, but I really feel that, for the first time, I’m coming out of “youth” and entering “middle age.” It’s later than you think, as the song says (not Pink Floyd–much older than that, kids).
Modern human life starts at unfettered possibility, which funnels through our own actions and those of others, as well as random chance, to a horrid specificity: This is what he did, this is where he died. No one aims for the middle when they’re young, but there’s a tremendous pull there for comfort, for love, for entertainment, for leisure, for well-cooked, delicious, and timely meals. Okay, that’s it…this has become a Pink Floyd song. Here I thought I had gotten wiser with age, and it turns out I only know what I did at 16: “Did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in the cage?” Actually, the answer is no. I deserted.