As I celebrated another year in life this past summer, this one supposedly more important than some others, I tried to get to the bottom of the emotional reaction to a number. Was it something which diminished our value as complex and multi-faceted human beings? Or just me struggling to face the facts of aging.
How does it feel?
“It doesn’t feel much at all,” I say. But then again, I am writing this, I am writing a piece on how my new age doesn’t feel like anything at all. I realize this completely defeats the purpose of this whole undertaking. I also realize that when my age will be publicised, older readers might scoff and say something like “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” at least in case they thrive on bad taste in rock music (which many older, mostly men, inevitably do)”.
“How does it feel?” usually comes right after “happy birthday!” when you tell people about this particular birthday. It can either be said cheerily or in a solemn tone, as if your suddenly enormous age is now a cause for concern. “Will you be alright? Will you?” As if growing older would require them to speak to you like a mother worrying about her child leaving for a school trip.
The how does it feel question is being thrown around town in a number of conversations, as if the power of numbers is expected to be directly connected with my state of mind. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I would point out that I am not a calculator governed by numbers, but a human being, whose emotions are the result of a much more complex set of factors than a simple calculation of years lived. But I guess that would be considered to be “a dick move”.
This is not an argument against the how does it feel question per se. For those of you who have passed this mathematical climax, destined to paddle the muddy waters in-between the supposed significance of even numbers, I can see its relevance as a benchmark comparing how you felt at this moment. But for me, with my contempt for Excel sheets and numeric explanations in general (which I nevertheless never shy away from in my professional role, which in itself probably is a sign of aging) I find it slightly insulting when my complex persona is reduced to the impact of a number. And as modern society is becoming increasingly governed by numbers I feel a great need to put my foot down. Right on the number obsessed people who abide by them.