Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Fading away


About a year ago, I wrote about being invisible. I could have simple copied and pasted that post here today. No one read it the first time, so it wouldn't be like I was repeating myself. Though that is what we tend to do as we begin to fade into the woodwork.

I used to wonder why my 81-year old mother repeats things. I'd be on the phone and she'd tell me the same story umpteen times. I'd stop her and say, "Mom, you told me that already." She'd pause for a moment and then start up where she left off. I think I understand that now.

It's not just that we forget what we've said as we get older (though I'm sure that is part of it). I think that we repeat things because the process of becoming invisible as we get older also affects what we say and what people hear. We begin repeating things to try and be heard.

Sometimes I stand invisibly at the checkout stand and listen to the checker chattering to the person bagging the groceries about what they are going to do that evening. I could be dressed in a chicken costume, flapping my wings and crowing and they would not acknowledge me until they've printed out the receipt, read my name and say, "You've saved $5.33 today, Mr. H****. Have a nice day." It is the same at video stores, dry cleaners and the post office...wait, they've always ignored everyone at the post office.

It is my karma. It is all of our karma's for being arrogant in our youth and believing we will be unique and not age. We believe we will never have hair grow in odd places or get confused or move slowly. And we never stop rushing blindly into the future until we reach the top of that hill, see the downgrade sign and frantically start braking.

Maybe nature makes us invisible as we age to protect us from scrutiny if we try to ignore the process. If people can't see us then they won't notice the comb overs, the pony tails, too much make up or, god forbid, the black socks with shorts. Nothing can shield you if you are wearing a Speedo. You deserve whatever ridicule is heaped on you.

I got into a discussion a couple of weeks ago about famous people who died young. The person I was talking with tried to say that great talent was what created fame. I took the position that talent was only part of it but it was the youth we worshipped. Elvis, Marilyn, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and James Dean wouldn't be icons if they'd lived and faced the inevitable ravages of time. I cited Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor as perfect examples. And anyone who watched the Rolling Stones during the Superbowl halftime seem to concur that one more tour wasn't a great idea.

In many ways, I don't mind getting older and disappearing slowly. It is kind of pleasant to slow down and notice the scenery. But I'd be lying if I didn't say it gets to me sometimes to hover unnoticed in the crowds of younger people rushing by and not be seen or heard.

Maybe that's why I blog. Everyone is more or less invisible here, even the young. So it kind of evens out the playing field. It's my travelogue as I coast down the hill. And just between you a me, I don't always use my brakes.

13 comments:

cherish said...

That is amazing computer work! This is very interesting, my mom tends to repeat herself to me. She does not think I hear her for some reason. I always say mom you already told me that and she says yeah I know but I did not think you were listening. I think I do not respond the way she expects me to. But I do believe it is me not her because my husband does the same thing to me. I do hear them but something is lost in the acknowledgement. You have given me much to think about today! Thank you.

shandi said...

Wow!!! One of your best written observations of life Tim. I have noticed this as well. I have noticed my disappearing act in the last several years. It's happening. But... thankfully it happens to us all.

Here, you are definately NOT invisible.

Tim ID said...

Thanks Cherish. I hope this made up for the bad school memories I dredged up :)

And thank you Shandi. I don't think you really start to fade until you hit 40, so you have a few more years before you need to think about downshifting. Fortunately you took that trucker class!

shandi said...

I'm scared to death of turning 40 for that reason. Most of my female friends are over 50. They go on about how wonderful their 30's were and how the glitz and glamour didn't fade away until they got around 45.

I'm already invisible Tim (as you gathered from my post today). Men my age want girls in their 20's. Physical perfection is easier on the eyes as they are too lazy to focus on anything more substantial.

The Michael said...

Pardon me, Shandi, but if I was out in the market again, a twenty year old would NOT be on my shopping list. They were driving me batshit before I met my wife five years older than me. And I was only about 38 at the time! Yes, the older you seem to be, the less opaque you become, and they begin to see right thru you. In an age where a person like Paris Hilton suddenly comes out of nowhere and is instantly "famous" for no apparent reason, you have to wonder what it is that gets our attention. As for becoming invisible, according to my number of comments lately, it seems I have lost about 78% of my solidity. Tim, this was an excellent post that made a pretty good point that we as old fucks don't like to think about, but is staring us in our faces.

Tim ID said...

THE Michael,
At least when we stare at the face in the mirror we can't see it. And it's the quality of the comments, not the quantity.

Tim ID said...

Shandi, I think we all have felt invisible at various times in our lives no matter what our age. And I really do think age is a relative thing. When you are 20, 30 seems old. When you are 30, 40 seems old, and so on. But the beauty of finally recognizing that youth is fleeting is that you do see things differently and appreciate what is lasting.

Hayden said...

I'll have to join in the chorus - very well observed and written. What really shocked me is that I'm accustomed to hearing about this from women (after 50, Shandi, you've still got LOTS of visibility!) but this is the first time I've heard this observation from a man.

thanks for sharing it... somehow nice to know that its universal. invisibility loves company I guess.

Tim ID said...

Thanks Hayden, on many fronts we are all just human. Some more than others.

Lights in the wake said...

I haven't really given it much thought, but I suppose you are right. Thinking about it now I find that I am not disturbed by it. I am quite comfortable with my anonymity.

Besides, it makes it a hell of a lot easier to pick your nose in public.

If one where so inclined.

Tim ID said...

Thanks Lights. TMI.

darlingina said...

whew.... okay, all caught up on Sir Tim's posts. Got my fix and feel so much better. Don't think i'm not reading, because i am. Hmmm, maybe i'm just "invisible". Love and enjoy all your posts, as usual.
;o) Enjoy Your day Tim.
Hugs,
~gina~

Tim ID said...

Thanks Gina,
So are you invisible or a friend without a face?