14 February 2010

On growing old

The newest member of our department is 21 years old. I'll turn 27 next month. What makes me feel old is the fact that I have yet to accomplish what I vowed to do before my silver anniversary. I'm two years late for my targets.

Maybe it is a common feeling among those in their 20s. There is not a need, but a burden to conquer, if not save the world.

Actress Irma Adlawan says good breaks and recognition only came to her now (now that she's in her 40s). It makes me not afraid to get older. In fact I'm never afraid of it, I'm indifferent to it. Until I met someone who's 21 years old and realized there is always something better out there.

But I have to name it.

When friends in my age group tell me about not knowing what they want, or worry about the direction their life is heading to, I think surely it must be okay to not know, for only then will you be permitted the freedom to try out any thing without risking anything. The lost discovers the wild and wonderful, finds a fellow traveller. That's what youth is for, I half-believe. I have that at the back of my mind but at the same time do my best to figure out what I want twice as fast and steer my ship in that direction.

Now is exciting. Tomorrow—I know I can look forward to that calmness and wisdom I see in people in their 50s, in their real prime. For inspiration, I turn to people like Irma Adlawan and remember these words from writer Dana Goia:
Poets serious about making careers in institutions understand that the criteria for success are primarily quantivative. They must publish as much as possible as quickly as possible. The slow maturation of genuine creativity looks like laziness to a committee. Wallace Stevens was forty-three when his first book appeared. Robert Frost was thirty-nine. Today these sluggards would be unemployable.

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