How old are you really?

There’s a quote I like:

“You are not just the age you are. You are all the ages you have ever been.”                       ~ Kenneth Koch

Sometimes I see this in my children. Although generally quite mature, they have their moments! I have been known to ask, “How old are you really?” When I ask this question of my son, the answer is usually three. He’s typically laughing when we have this exchange, so I know he knows I am just gently teasing him. But there is some truth in the quote that resonates, and it frequently catches me by surprise.

Last weekend, I watched “The Sound of Music.” (My niece is rehearsing for the play at her school and was singing some of the songs  – put me in the mood to see the classic. Thank you, Mary Ashley!) As I watched the familiar scenes and heard the beautiful music, I was a small child again, hearing the music play from a big reel-to-reel tape recorder my parents had. I knew all the songs by heart, long before I ever saw the movie. Of course that was before the era of video tapes or dvds…you couldn’t see a movie whenever you wanted when I was a child. In some ways, it made the experience more meaningful, almost sacred. Some movies were shown on TV once a year, and if you missed it, that was it. “The Sound of Music” was one of those films that had an annual showing. It was the first movie I ever bought, when buying movies became an option. I’ve long since replaced that video tape with a dvd, but whatever the format, the movie and the music remain favorites, and I’m always transported to childhood by the magic.

It’s a strange sensation, and one that everyone experiences at some time. From a scent, a taste, music, or the trigger of a sudden and unexpected familiar scene, transportation from one age to another is lightning fast, and often rich with detail. Or other times, for me, the impression is fleeting, just a glimpse into a past time. The moment can be full of sentiment or remembered joy.

So I am fifty, but also six, also twenty-three with a newborn, forty and celebrating my 20th anniversary in Mexico. Of course, as the old saying goes, “You’re as young as you feel.” Well, some days I’m younger than others.

What age are you today?


3 thoughts on “How old are you really?

  1. I think with my teaching, I will be stuck at 12 and 13 for a while. It is quite entertaining that the group of teachers who teach middle school, turn into middle schoolers when we have to go to a meeting of any kind. We goof off and talk on the sides. It helps to keep us in check of what are kids are going through, everyday is like one big long meeting for them…


  2. Some days I feel like I’m 10 again, riding my pony out on the bald prairie, other days I am the nervous 15 year old who’s thinking about boys ..and then there’s days that I’m in my 30’s and thinking about what’s coming at 40! (note: mostly good stuff!). Very thoughtful post .. and yes the Sound of Music transports me, too … so does the Wizard of Oz. On 1 x a year and if you missed it you missed it – darn!


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