I used to think ....
that growing older was mostly experiencing things in the same way as when I was younger, but just choosing a different balance of things to experience. That meant it wasn't necessary to savor the complete sensory fullness of each and every moment because it could and would happen again in the future. Now in late middle age, I have come to realize that growing older involves so much more than simple choice of what to experience in what proportion. It involves a complete change in how our senses react and are interpreted internally. And that has immense consequences for the whole idea of the repeatability of experience.
It seems that our very senses change in the way they respond to the world around us as we age. Some sights are not as vivid as they once were whereas others trigger new and powerful emotions by association with the past. Sounds have new and different timbres as the frequency response of our ears changes; music we once thought could not be improved upon now sounds so-so; music that we once deemed merely good now sounds great. The sensitivity of touch changes so that textures take on whole new meanings. A baby's skin still feels soft, but in a different way than it did in our youth. And the callouses that time and use have created on our fingers means that smooth is a different experience now than it was in younger days. In some ways aging leads to a mutability of experience much akin to the LSD trips popular in our youth.
So now I think that growing older consists of experiencing the world in new and different ways, even if it is the same objective experience from my younger years. And that has consequences in how I view and interact with the world and my possible experiences of it, both in the future and now in the present. It makes me realize there will never be another moment just like the current one in my experience. That in turn means that the current moment is important to savor in all it's fullness. There will never be another one just like it in my life because even if the same conditions were to recur, my sensory intrepretation of the experience will be at a minimum slightly different. That also implies one should not let life get in the way of fully experiencing all that happens. Now matter how dark or dim the present and future may seem, each experience should be enjoyed fully in the now; there will never be another like it.
That is what I used to think and what I now think. What do you think?
This is a response to Mama Kat's writers challenge for this week. Click on over and join in.