Canadian singer/songwriter Bryan Adams’ 1996 release, “18 Til I Die” includes the words:
I wanna be young the rest of my life / Never say no, try anything twice
Til the angels come, and ask me to fly / Gonna be 18 'til I die
Yeah, don't worry about the future / Forget about the past
We're gonna have a ball / Gonna have a blast, we'll make it last
I'm gonna be 18 'til I die / It sure feels good to be alive
Someday I'll be 18 goin' on 55 / 18 'til I die
Desirable dream? Well . . . yes and no. With regard to the body: yes. With regard to the mind: no.
As the stranger in the pharmacy line said to me a few days ago: “Growing old ain’t for sissies.” Ask my joints, my lower back, my prostate, my eyes, my ears . . . they’d all be happy to go back to 1963. Age wreaks havoc on anyone’s anatomy. It’s something us elders learn to live with as we remember the “good ol’ days” of relatively pain-free youth. One never knows how bad it might get, but one holds on to the hope it doesn’t get too bad.
As for the mind, I wouldn’t go back to my last year of high school for love or money. My following 60 years of riding our planet’s yearly journey around the sun has produced intellectual development that almost makes 18-years-old an embarrassment. A few items from my early years to which I would not wish to return:
- Wondering how anyone with thoughts contrary to mine could be so wrong.
- Taking stupid risks because of my obvious invulnerability.
- Holding certain God-thoughts I was confident were unalterable truths.
- Participation in the killing of Vietnamese people simply because I was told to do so.
Someone, probably about a million years ago, once said: live and learn . . . and one might have a half-decent start on that concept at age eighteen. But one can stay bogged down in a variety of mind-ruts if not a) aware of the unfathomable depths of what one doesn’t know, and b) possessed of an openness to new learnings . . . especially those which challenge what were heretofore thought to be absolutes.
One of the most difficult things to say (and mean) is “I might be wrong.” Of course, one also might be right. Responsible people will strive with gusto to discern which is which, applying critical thinking while maintaining an openness to the possibility of change. Wisdom comes from reaffirming this process again and again. I’m finding it much easier – and more profitable – at this stage of life.
Eighteen ’till I die? Not a desirable dream. Seventy-eight and going strong? I’m working on it.