Thursday, July 15

Of old friends and new 

I have a new friend. He’s in his fifties, if you count the years. But he’s considerably young where it counts, as it should, at heart. We meet on the ride back home, every evening. We discuss movies, music, food, books, art, and what have you. And once the words start rolling out, slicing acutely through the air around us, buildings, people, and other automobiles seem just a hazy whirr, and even his salt-and-pepper hair doesn’t stand out. If anything were to disrupt us at all, it would have to be my own fidgety manners, of tossing my hair back and forth, or perhaps, fingering my nail enamel.

I’ve always been fascinated by older people. Many of my closest friends are about a decade older than I. There seems to be an anomalous connection that binds us together. I sometimes wonder if it’s the essence of springtide I apparently convey that acts as the coalescing force, beckoning them to revive their own youthfulness through me, or their sagacity and sophistication that urges me to seek enlightenment in them, thus augmenting the appeal factor that’s ostensibly at large here.

Wisdom, they say, doesn’t essentially come with age. Experiences are what make us who we are. And ever since I have embarked rather curiously upon my tradition of befriending older people, I have endured the realism of all their experiences, as if just being with them and partaking in discussions with them made up for my not having lived life their rational way. I have imbibed their philosophies like a pitcher plant would suck in its prey; made mental notes of all their words like a jeweler would tuck warily, precious stones in his wares; and consulted them when I was in dire need of advice and guidance. My perspectives, on their part, appeared to change, and my foresight, to sharpen. Even though I haven't exactly glided over all my problems and dilemmas all the time, I have learned to treat them differently, and I have always taken pride in connecting with these good old folks.

But I like to believe there has been a reciprocal balance also. When I spoke animatedly, if at all, and inadvertently so – considering the mood swings and attention span one usually associates with my contemporaries and I – to them about the fads and fashions of the times, or say, hip and happening gizmos, or simply juicy hearsay, I like to believe they were warmed, if little, by the playful, lilting joy that is usually thought of as deriving from, to put it wackily, juvenile-chatter.

In any case, I draw enough solace from the fact that life seems richer, fuller, and more meaningful, with them. And they do seem to acknowledge my being a part of theirs. Or at least, they strive to make me feel so. And that in itself is a thing to delight in.

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