Recently, I turned 40. My dermatologist, to whom I confided my torments as a mature man, looked at me with a hint of circumspection from the height of his august sixty: “If you want, I take out the handkerchiefs and we cry together. »
→ CHRONICLE. To get old
Aging is actually quite a common thing. Maybe even a chance. It’s to do. But what do you want: this feeling of floating between two ages, like an indecisive tightrope walker, leaves me perplexed. Neither really young nor frankly old, I don’t really know what to think of this season of existence. It’s in-between time.
Growing up, a full-time job
Exit our dreams of permanence, our fantasies of immutability. Places, people, you, me, everything changes (to paraphrase the writer Frédéric Beigbeder). If, like me, you’re a bit slow to relax, fatherhood takes care of making you admit it for good. From all eternity, children seem to have made mutation a way of life. Leave them for a week on vacation away from you, they take two centimeters. One fine day, your son’s voice drops three octaves, and Barry White invites himself to the family table. Growing up is a full time job.
But here it is: like us, who are reluctant at the approach of yet another birthday, they too sometimes feel torn between two ages. There is one, in my house, which oscillates these days between the smartphone and the teddy bear, gangsta rap and nursery rhymes.
Am I going, am I not going? Whether we have 11 or 40 years, it’s always the same thing. Diving into the next age is never easy. Ambient youthism undoubtedly plays a big role: it is not good to grow old in the France of 2022. The recent pandemic will have crudely revealed this.
If our ancestors were better taken into account, as they are in Africa or Asia, we would perhaps have less prejudice about our first wrinkles, more inclined to consider the signs of time as a blessing.
“Round number” birthdays
We know what happens to Dorian Gray in Oscar Wilde’s novel. Woe to him who refuses to grow old. I am aware, however, of the limits of this reasoning: human life has nothing to do with a succession of stages so clear and airtight that we boldly cross when the time comes. Birthdays with “round numbers”, as we say at home, maintain the illusion that there are more decisive milestones than others, at the tenth, at the thirties or at the fifties.
Nonsense! I do not deny the educational virtues of such rites of passage, like so many reassuring markers in our diaries. But, on closer inspection, it is much more of a continuum which seems to take shape according to our choices, our misfortunes, our miracles, our disappointments, our dazzlings, everything that hollows out our features and sharpens our hearts. One day after another, until the end. Watching your children grow up is the best school there is for consenting to the rattle of the hours. The bathroom mirror just has to feel good.