Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


Older and yet younger

Posted on April 29, 2007 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes
The Philippine STAR 04/29/2007

Last week, the APO did a show in Mississauga near Toronto, Canada where I appeared onstage with a head of salt and pepper — okay, almost all white — hair. The Misa genes inherited from my mother gave us Paredes sibs premature gray hair. I have been dyeing my hair a dark shade of brown since my 30s, but I let it grow back to white in the past three months because at this point in my life, I finally can enjoy the naturalness of it. Besides, it goes with my status as a grandfather of a four-year-old.

As we were going around promoting the show before concert night, I could tell that people were talking about how much older I had gotten since the last time they saw me, obviously because of my white head of hair. It does not really bother me that much even if it causes a minor commotion among fans of APO who seem to be shocked that we have aged. Sometimes I think people expect us to be frozen in time, even as they themselves grow older.

After much internal debate, three days ago, I succumbed and went to the parlor to have my hair dyed back to the brown-black color that people are used to just to make it easier for our audience to concentrate on our performance and not speculate about how much older we had gotten. We have five more shows to do in the next three weeks and I don’t want anything to stand in the way of our music.

Looking back, as a young person many years ago, I used to think of aging as maturing intellectually. In theory, people grow old. I knew that. But my appreciation of it was conceptual. In other words, it was something that happened only to other people. It was almost impossible for me — an impetuous, vain, young man — to imagine that the day would come when I, too, would grow older.

It was hard to imagine aging while my body was supple and strong and my shoulder-length hair was swaying with the wind. As a young person then, I could stay up as many nights as I wanted and just collapse into sleep when I needed to, pretty much the way my son Mio does now. My body was made to party.

There were no diets, no restrictions to what I could do with my body. Maintaining it was simple. I ate when hungry, slept when tired, and looked for non-stop activities to expend energy when I was awake.

It seemed not too long ago when my body, in all its narcissistic glory, felt invincible and immortal. Death was, like aging, something that happened to other people. There was no such thing as mortal danger. There were only adventures and kicks to indulge in and live through and talk about later. I was young and that was eternal, or so it seemed.

Life as a young man was certainly more about the thrills that hormonal highs and adrenalin rushes bombarded my body with constantly than about the delights and mysteries that my neo-cortex discovered and began experiencing in my early 40s.

At the onset of my 40s, one of the things I noticed was my eyesight seeming to blur, and all too suddenly. I was always proud of my 20/20 vision and waking up every day to notice the deterioration was quite upsetting. The wrinkles, the thinning hair, a few aching joints and the noticeable slowing down of my body became obvious soon after. And so it goes.

In the showbiz workplace, the term kuya, which the younger stars used to address us with, had been replaced with tito. A few years later, it has now become “Sir Jim.” I guess that sort of puts me in the category of “kagalang-galang at matanda.”

But paradoxically, in my 50s, I feel younger than when I was in my 20s. As a young man then, I was too full of myself to really appreciate the implications of even my own parents’ aging, much less anything that did not concern me directly. I was too constricted and opinionated to get outside my own narcissism and embrace the world and others.

I was also too scared, or maybe just too self-conscious, to really go for what life had to offer. I was too cynical and too negative to see the opportunities that presented themselves for me to pursue. The beautiful body-machine I possessed was controlled by the ego’s demands, and my ego was too much of a segurista. Who was it that lamented how youth is wasted on the young?

I was probably not the worst case of negativism and narcissism in my generation, but still, I feel I missed out on a lot. Since I thought I already knew everything, I did not bother to try many other things.

Now, as an older person, I have learned to let go of the many fears and guilt that spoiled what could have been numerous opportunities for joy, growth and happiness in the past. I am more forgiving of myself, and as a result, of others as well. I also feel less uptight and opinionated. I am even learning to appreciate people and points of views that I readily condemned before. In fact, I find myself embracing many of them now.

And this newfound joy and liberation, ironic as it seems, is the gift that comes with aging. Advancing years and the body pains it brings have made me more awake and responsive to life. While I may feel the limitations aging has imposed on this body, it has also given me direction and purpose.

Others may argue that aging is the dimming of the light, the forcible abduction into the night that one, at best, can only rage against. I tend to look at aging as a point from where a person can look back at how he or she has lived so far, appreciate and accept himself or herself, warts and all, and with the remaining time left, go for the last unfulfilled dreams.

To burn brightly and tell one’s story to the world is what I am talking about. At best, I have about two decades left to sing, write, learn and teach, to love, laugh, be silly, make mistakes, to serve, give and experience joy, to learn from suffering and drink from the bittersweet cup of life.

I therefore approach aging awake and conscious so as not to miss out on its gifts the way I missed out on some of the gifts of youth.

We need not go kicking and screaming and holding on to life before the big blackout. As James Hillman put it, “We have the option to build up to a lasting, glorious, and memorable sunset like no other.”

15 to “Older and yet younger”

  1. bu says:

    my dad used to always remind me not to hurry growing up because “you’ll only be young once; you’ll be old for the rest of your life” — like it’s a sad thing to happen..
    now that i’m almost “there”, the only thing i miss is a super thin body, clear eyes, and long sleep anytime, believe it or not.
    being happy is a state of mind, so i will choose to be happy for the rest of my life, young or old, sexy or not! 🙂
    cheers, mr jim..

  2. Cristina says:

    This was such a beautiful post, Jim! (no more Sir nor Kuya) Wow! 🙂

    It’s true, what you have said. I am 29 years old and I feel I am pretty lost and afraid to move. In the meantime I feel I am wasting my youth, too.

    Funny how when you grow older and wiser, and about to experience “the big blackout”, you finally begin to feel more free, more fearless and more open to drinking in life to the fullest. Most older people never get to this point, though. So you are one of the few who have “made it”. I wish more people could reach that point. And the earlier, the better.

  3. DaveLock says:

    Now I’m really panicking Jim. I’m turning 40 this year, & the blurry eyesight I’m familiar with, but you’re telling me I’ve got wrinkles, thinning hair, & aching joints just around the corner? Aaarrrggghhhh!!!!!

    For my master theory on aging, I keep clutching on to the basic theme in that “old bull / young bull” joke. Do you know it? 🙂

    Dave.

  4. Anonymous says:

    hi Jim,

    I remember a quotation I read when I was young.

    “It is better to live for a day and change the world rather than live forever and achieve nothing.”

    You have done your fair share in changing the world as you age gracefully.

    Cheers,

    LA

  5. Regina says:

    Jim:

    Men look distinguish with gray hair accent, women look old and that’s why we color ours to stay young (others look good, some they get carried away!)

    Anyway, it’s what you have accumulated in life that matters…knowledge. You have that and you inspire people. That’s your gratification, not the facade. My husband who is 52 gets insecure about his hair too, I told him hush! baka me magkagusto pa sa kanya!

    Regina

  6. Jim says:

    bu–you got it!!!!

    cristina–yes. One way to put it is this: when you are not afraid to die, you are not afraid to live.I know some older people who have not made peace with themselves and so they resent being old.

    dave–yes, I know that joke. And yes, thinning hair and wrinkles are on the way! ha ha. Calll thinninhg hair something else, like new solar panels to drive your sex machine!! heh heh

    LA–thanks. But I’m not through yet… as the poem goes,

    ‘and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep!’

  7. Jim says:

    regina–You are right. In showbiz though, appearances are still important although I am slowly debunking that.

    hayaan mo na yung husband mo. A little vanity is harmless.. ha ha

  8. Lucid Dreamer says:

    When I was 15 I thought I was old ENOUGH. When I turned 18 I told myself I’m finally an ADULT. Now that I’m 25 I sorta feel like 35. I know though that the older I get the more appreciative I become of the years and days that I have. That’s the only great thing about age, you only get to accumulate it through the years.

    BTW, I just came back from Cawayanon, Bukidnon and stayed at the Sison’s there, I saw APOs pics on top of their piano. Mr. Sison told us that when APO visited there his youngest son got so inspired that he’s now avidly taking piano and violin lessons. Danny told him everyone should learn to play an instrument. I think that was a very good advice.

  9. MelaCane says:

    Hi Jim,

    I wasn’t expecting you to write anything like this topic this soon.
    keep the words flowing and I’ve read about a project that includes you and jeanne young (photography). would you mind telling me about it?

    -thanks
    Kat

  10. Tekla says:

    Hi Jim! 20 years ago, I was a teenager who would giggle and talk loud in public and my lola would “shhh” me in annoyance. Now teenagers who do that sometimes drive me nuts. But when I think about my youth, the annoyance kind of goes away. My husband is 20 years older than I am. He said that when he was a teenager, the topics of conversation usually evolves around girls and rock n’ roll. Now, in his 50s, he and his friends talk about who’s getting a knee surgery and who else is taking zocor.

    I always enjoy reading your posts.

  11. Jim says:

    tekla–tell your husband to include the topic of girls and rock and roll again and the pains may go away. ha ha

    lucid dreamer–Danny has his wise moments.
    Aging is like that. The meaning keeps changing as we get older

    melacane–It will probably get more intense as the years go by–writing about aging, I mean.

  12. Candice says:

    I once read a book by Bill Cosby about aging called “Time Flies.” Not quite zen, but really quite funny. He tackles hitting the big five-oh. You might find it interesting. 🙂

  13. MelaCane says:

    Jim,

    Intense is good.

    melacane

  14. febeth says:

    Dear Kuya Jim:

    Kahit maputi na buhok mo, gwapo ka pa rin!

  15. Jim says:

    candice–I read a book of his years ago. He’s quite funny.

    febeth–ha ha. salamat.
    melacane–agree



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