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Monday, June 02, 2008

My Real Age

When I was a student at U.C., there was a story going around about two graduate students from the Psychology department who found themselves unable to make ends meet and were forced to find part-time jobs. One, went to work as a teller in a bank and the other decided to be a bank robber. After a few weeks, Robber Student found himself at the counter of Teller Stuudent. He handed the teller a paper bag with a note : "Put all the cash in the bag and hand it over. Just act normal and nobody will get hurt- I've got a gun"
Teller read the note and wrote on it "First, let's define our terms, what do you understand by 'normal' ?"

First, we have to define the meaning of "Real Age". Are we referring to the elapsed time between my birth and today? If so this is actually a rather arbitrary definition. If we were on a planet or star that had no solar system, how would we measure "time" and age? Would there be any time at all? Would we age? Further, why should we accept the idea that "time" is defined by the rise and fall of the sun rather than the rising of the moon or the movement of other planets?

Second, there are the question of "mental" age", "physical age" and "emotional age". There are millions of so-called "adults" who read at a fifth grade level or below and many 50 year-olds who can't climb a flight of stairs or swim 100 yards without assistance. How old are they? If we divided the entire population of this country by those who were of chronological voting age and those who were not, what percentage of the voters have the emotional and intellectual maturity to make the decisions proposed on the ballots?

Why, when we're computing ages, do we count from the moment of birth rather than conception? Or, why do we disregard previous incarnations?

Why do we count backwards with age? "You are 63 years old" (you have completed 63 years of living on this planet) Maybe we should count forward "You have 21 more years to live" (according to current actuarial tables)

The question of how old I am can only be answered in relative terms like:

How old are you right now at this minute?
How old were when you woke up this morning?
How old were you last night when you went to bed?
How old are you when you're playing a good game of golf? Catching a big mouth bass? Flirting with a young woman?
How old am I when come upon a new and interesting idea or concept?

What is my real age?
You tell me.

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