IVP - Strangely Dim - Your Time Was Then

July 23, 2004

Your Time Was Then

By David A. Zimmerman

I suppose I wouldn’t mind aging so much if we all did it together—or at least if the word generation actually meant something. I mean, really: I’m Generation X, but so is the little weasel who works down the hall from me and keeps stealing all my office supplies. So are those jerks down the block who keep blowing up sticks of dynamite on the street as acts of patriotism. And then there’s Generation Y or the Millennials or whatever, and they’re starting to take entry level positions in my field and write the theses I wish I’d written and move into my neighborhood—my neighborhood. Two generations breathing down my neck, and the older I get, the more of them there seem to be.

I’m much more comfortable with the age difference between me and my oldest niece: thirty-one years. She’s cute; I’m funny. She climbs on my back and sprays me with water; I carry her around and wipe the food off her face. I don’t have to worry about my niece taking my job from me, at least till I’m comfortably close to retirement. I don’t have to worry about her kids tromping on my grass and picking all my flowers. We’re free to enjoy one another without feeling threatened by one another.

Not so with these yuppie interlopers. They’re breathing my air, touching my stuff, stealing my thunder. That may be how King Saul felt about up-and-comer David. If Saul was anything like me, he had already developed a pretty clear idea of how the rest of his life would unfold—more eating, more drinking, more merriment, more glory. Here was Israel’s first king ever, the glory boy of the people of God, and suddenly all the girls were swooning over some punk kid instead of him. David burst on the scene and started stealing Saul’s press.

It didn’t help that David was so likeable. Nothing is more perplexing than liking someone you hate—or, perhaps more appropriately, someone you wish would just go away and let you enjoy yourself in peace. And that’s my problem: I really like all these folks who are the age I wish I were, but just being around them reminds me that my time was then, and what’s left for me now? Their present is familiar to me, and I get all nostalgic about it. Meanwhile, my future is an open question. I hate open questions.

Maybe I could take some small comfort in knowing that I’ve prompted a similar perplexity for the people who went before me; I’ve been a thief of their own youth, and they’ve been the same to their own antecedents. Maybe some comfort, but not much, because I’m still aging at an alarming rate, and I’m watching myself move from the center of the universe to its periphery, which in reality is where I’ve always been and where my usurpers are too.

Time is, after all, simply a construct, and the true Center and Source of it all exists outside of it. At some point even my niece will be looking over her shoulder as another generation breathes down her neck, at which point I’ll be happily sipping prune juice through a straw, watching Wheel of Fortune and laughing at the absurdity of it all.

But that will be then. For now, I hate prune juice and want the universe to revolve around me. Is that too much to ask?

Listen to the June 28, 2004, installment of Lin’s Bin, an audio-essay by Chicago DJ Lin Braehmer, for another perspective on aging.

Check out my last lunge at adolescence in my forthcoming book, Comic Book Character.

Read about my secret identity at www.ivpress.com.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at July 23, 2004 8:04 AM Bookmark and Share

Comments are closed for this entry.

Get Email Updates

You'll get an email whenever a new entry is posted to Strangely Dim

Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

Subscribe to Feeds