18 Years Into the New Millennium, Finding My Younger Self

Robert Goldfarb in The New York Times:

Merlin_131047685_43d6f6d2-ca41-48dc-8bfa-1fa6910fb278-master768That I have lived as many years in the new millennium — 18 — as I did in the time from birth to finishing high school seems inconceivable to me. I’m 88, and between 1930 and 1948 went from newborn to adult, from toddler to leader of an infantry squad. Those first 18 years were a journey into manhood, while the millennium seems merely its epilogue.

I’m certainly not the same man at 88 I was when the millennium began. But changes in me — stiffness, skin that invites angry bruises, occasional memory lapses — are insignificant compared to the growth spurt at 17 that shot me from 5-foot-8 to 6-foot-2. I hope I’ve gained additional wisdom during the millennium, but feel I’m essentially the same man I was 18 years ago. That contrast came into sharp focus recently when I renewed my driver’s license. A motor vehicle clerk, glancing from me to the photograph taken seven years earlier, said I hadn’t changed enough to require a new picture. So little physical change in seven years! Only my mother would have recognized me in photographs taken seven years apart during my first 18 years of life. Aging has put me on a conveyor propelling me through days as though there were only two in a month, the first and the last. Daily rituals like shaving, brushing my teeth, dressing have me puzzling, didn’t I just do this? I sometimes think of time as slices of a pie. Summers were endless when I was 6, just as one-sixth of a pie is a generous portion. Even with a scalpel and hands steadier than mine, cutting a pie into 88 slices is beyond most of us. That thought alone reminds me that the slice of life remaining to me is very small.

More here.