Last night I took the kids to the nearby ice skating rink.
It was your typical scene. Pop music blaring from speakers, a crowd of mostly junior high and high school kids skating round and round. Some holding hands. Others laughing, falling, giggling. There was a snack shop with $175 hot chocolates and bowls of instant noodles.
And there was the man in the above video.
He stuck out like a palm tree in a blizzard. Gray hair, a beret, black clothes, pierced right ear. Age: 75. I watched him skate and skate and dance and dance, and others watched him, too. Many made little jokes at his expense. I heard the comments—”Yeah, he’s crazy. He’s here all the time.” and “That guy’s creepy as hell”—and a single emotion oozed through my body.
Yup. I was jealous of this old man in an old rink. Why? Because he didn’t care what people thought or said. He was simply happy and carefree and doing exactly what he wanted to do. The cliched impulse is to suggest that, when you reach a certain age, you stop concerning yourself with what others think. But when I consider the seniors I know, well, that’s not entirely true. Perhaps they care less. But they still care. What will folks think? What will they say? Do I look fat in this dress? Does this hat match my pants?
Nope, it’s not age that sets you free. Or experience. It’s indifference. A general lack of concern for the thoughts-communicated-into-speech of others.
I am to have this ice skater’s level of happiness.
I’m just not there.