Another Year Gone By


by Terry Hogan


I suppose the title says it all.  I'm getting adjusted to the fact that years pass by like months now.  It isn't all bad, I guess.  I used to have the problem of getting the right year on checks and the like when a new year came around.  It was hard to break the habit.  It isn't a problem now.  The year seems to go by so fast, that I haven't had time to form the habit of writing the year; thus changing to yet another new year is not troublesome.


I have a theory about this.  I borrowed much of it from Einstein.  But because he is dead, I don't think he'll mind.  My theory is based on relativity.  As we get older, our metabolism slows down.  That is why we can eat a horse at age 20 and not gain an ounce .   At  60, you drive by (not drive throughÉjust by), and you gain five pounds.  It is, I believe, nature's way of coasting you down toward death.  This is probably where the phrase "over the hill" came from.  You are no longer accelerating, but rather coasting down the slope, and as you get older, the slope flattens out and you decelerate towards the inevitable outcome of life.  In the meantime, as you slow down, the rest of the maniacal world hurdles forward.  It actually may be accelerating in its pace, or it may only appear  to do so in relative terms.  As your metabolism slows down, all other things, by comparison to you, appear to go fasterÉincluding the calendar.  Thus, the years just fly by.  It is Einstein's Theory of Relatively applied to old age.    


But Nature is not without some sense of sympathy.  To ease the recognition of impending doom, as reflected by the metabolism wind-down, Nature tampers with your short-term memory.  If you can't remember what you did yesterday, or even 5 minutes ago,  the decline in metabolism and the breakneck speed of the years goes unnoticed. 


I expect the publication of the theory would get me the Nobel Prize if it were published in the New York Times, or some peer-review physics journal.  But it will likely go unnoticed and unrecognized for the broad implications that it has, until long after my death. Then a graduate student will come across this obscure publication that pre-dates a more universally recognized pronouncement of this insightful perspective.  But like Einstein, if I'm dead,  I won't mind too much about my failure to achieve the recognition I deserved in my lifetime.  We geniuses have a burden to bear.


So, as we rapidly begin our brief passage through another year, it is nice to know that we need not make New Years Resolutions.  First, given the short-tern memory component of my theory (see above, if you have already forgotten), it is unlikely that any resolution will be remembered.  And second, if we happen to remember, by the time we start to implement the resolution with the best intent, it will be 2009. 


Now this may all appear to be a tad depressing. But don't worry about it.  You won't remember it for very long  ("Remember what?", you may say).  It is, after all, like pain.  You can remember having pain, but you can't recreate pain in your mind.  Such is the process of growing old. 


Why am I writing about this as I stare at the beginning of a new year?  The answer is easy.  At some point in my life, new years began to promise more difficulties than they did successes.  While my own body is telling me that I'm getting old in a chorus of voices from various component parts,  life appears to be conspiring to increase expectations.  Parenting becomes a 180 degree event.  You find yourself parenting generations on both sides of your own.  You find, that contrary to federal law, age does become a factor in employment.  And frankly, there is some basis for it.  Health issues, memory issues, and potential years of employment are reasonably legitimate considerations for the potential employer.  This is particularly true when costs of health care coverage, offered by the employer, is based on the record of health care claims.  Seldom are things as black and white as we'd sometimes like.


To all three or four of my non-relative readers, I wish you the best for the New Year, and I hope you enjoy it while it lasts.  If it appears to zip by in only a few months, it may be time to dig out a copy of that old will and see if it needs updating. If this doesn't make any sense, don't worry about it, it is already too late.  But if you must, try speed reading my theory of relativity again, and then skip the middle section of this article and come back directly to this paragraph.  If that doesn't work, call your son or daughter and ask them to explain.  They probably already possess the ability to "parent" the adjoining generations.


As somebody said, "life is a risky venture, but we'll all get through it."  And so it is.  It is just that the latter part goes so much faster than the early part.


Make as much pleasure for yourself as you can in 2008 and do it soon.  It will be 2009 before you know it, if you're lucky.  If you don't, you probably won't mind (dark humor).   If the last sentence doesn't make sense, start writing things down, so you won't forget. 


And you can re-read this article tomorrow and it will be all new to you.