Keyword here: ageism.
In Nelijärve, we discussed sexism, racism, heterosexism and other types of –isms, however, ageism (discrimination or prejudice based on one’s age) wasn’t on our agenda. Naturally, we had certain thematic constraints which didn’t apply to my own head.
I continue with a small confession: before this summer, I used to be such an ageist! Luckily, I’ve recently met a whole bunch of school or close-to-school age folks that made me reconsider one of my arrogant beliefs which could be superficially summarised like this: if you’re seventeen or eighteen, you may be rather smart but you can’t be that grown-up.
Why would I think so? I guess I would simply remember myself those six or seven years ago, see the difference between the then-me and the present-me and reject any sort of thought that a seventeen-year-old could be such a conscious, intelligent and well-informed individual…as I am now. In other words, 20+ beats under20.
It felt so great to once again make sure that the age itself is only a number and that you can squeeze way more into that “under20” than some people put into “50+”.
And then I happily, hippy-ly, and naïvely thought with a radiant smile on my face:
The global, aggregate level of the Human Consciousness… Maybe it’s rising!
(rising also represents the opposite of what will be happening to the number of my fellow readers after having read such a sentence…)
And now – reverse:
I met – for a short time only, unfortunately – an incredibly sweet Estonian guy in Thailand. When I asked him how old he was, he jokingly asked me to guess it (I myself like that question; some girl thought I would finish school next year, niiiiiice). Well, I did ask him. And missed it by 15 years. Naturally, I had to inquire what his secret was.
His response was as general as it was brilliant: in order to be young, you have to…stay young.
In my opinion, there is a point indeed in one’s life when he or she starts ageing. Interestingly, it starts with the saying or thinking “I’m too old for…” The moment I catch myself thinking I can’t jump over puddles, smile at an incredibly cute family of ducks swimming ridiculously quickly in the lake, or laugh to myself after remembering some absurd joke – this is it. This is ageing. Forget the wrinkles factor: I’ve met a great deal of young people who only looked young.
While filming for my school in Mae Taeng I saw an incredibly cute thing. One of our anuban (kindergarten) kids, after having climbed to the stage to receive something, ran up to the stairs and did a small slide on his back. Not a powerslide, but cool enough. It was also enough to get me thinking.
Alright, if I’m wearing woollen socks and I’m standing on some conveniently polished floor, the likelihood of me not trying to slide on it is very low. However, the kid situation made me raise one sad question: what the hell happens to us when we “grow up”? One thing is to walk on the stage floor and think ‘damn it, I wish I could slide towards the stairs right now, it all looks so tempting’. Another thing is to forget that you could be sliding there at all.
Don’t get me wrong. Not “growing up” or not “getting old” to me does not mean inserting hysterical laughter to every life situation or wearing clothes so bright it could easily cause seizures to a person passing by. Nonetheless, it is sad indeed when a person jumps into that “adult role” not by liberating him- or herself from irrational insecurities but by willingly constraining his/her behaviour even more.
The good thing here is there seems to be a new generation of awesome people to change this tendency. I’m more than lucky to have met a number of them in Nelijärve, just like I’m grateful for having met the “older” ones who are so nicely young.