Aging is the process of learning to appreciate greyness. It is only a gentle irony that our hair takes on that hue. The things children appreciate and learn about are defined by clarity: a color, a taste, an emotion. As time passes and experiences pile up, red becomes oxblood, sweetness and emotions take shape by their intensity.
My nearly-seven son cares not for fiction. He wants facts in books. The clarity has grown in scope, but not in complexity. This will continue until at some point he will become old.
That’s where I sit: on old side of things. You become old when your experiential knowledge gives you the ability to discern facts from things that purport to be facts; and you apprehend or comprehend that the act of knowing is equal parts belief and agenda.
So I no longer demand clarity. My scope has narrowed. I know that no matter how good that beer might be, I’ll enjoy bourbon more. I know that there is no point trying to convince people who hold fundamental positions on a topic to change their minds. I have reached the limits of clarity and move cautiously in the vast mist that exists between facts, and between knowledge and reality. Red is a gradient, flavors are combined, emotions are deep and savored. I understand how it is frustrating to the not-old to see what appears to be a lack of concern, or a concern with the unsubstantial. The frequency of the old is longer, both experientially and relativistically.
To be old is to be a ship happily lost in fog, savoring the subtlety of the phantoms that flit about the corners of our eyes, that, when we were young, we once mistook for friends.