Monthly Archives: March 2017

50. What does it even mean?

Today, March 16th 2017, is my 50th birthday. I’m rather ambivalent about. In fact, for the benefit of my close friends who are wondering where their party invite is, it’s a milestone I have no immediate plan to celebrate.  I know I should be feeling something, but I’m mostly just confused.

I remember some years back when my older brother turned 50. He lived in Zimbabwe at the time and I was unable to attend his party, which was no doubt his way of embracing the grand sounding age. I do however remember thinking “Holy shit, I can’t believe he’s 50”.  It didn’t make sense to me, but I remember thinking how bloody old it seemed. It didn’t actually even suit him. And here I am, not quite sure how I feel about it. And wondering whether it suits me.

But it has got me thinking. What exactly does 50 years old mean? Perhaps the problem is not me, but the way we describe how long we’ve been on this earth. Einstein once said ‘Time is relative”, and I’m not even sure what that even means. But I’m starting to develop my own hypothesis. Perhaps its age that is relative.

For some reason, we use the calendar to measure and describe our age and subsequently our time on earth. But I guess we could have chosen a different measurement entirely.

Instead of saying X years old, we could quite easily have said X something-else old.

We could have chosen meals eaten, which would make me roughly 57 400 meals old today, not factoring in the meals I missed, the snacks I might have eaten or the many feeds I demanded daily as a baby.

We could just have easily chosen farts or orgasms, which might have made me 146 000 farts old or 18 000 orgasms old, which I need to declare is a fictional total based on an ambitious average of 1 orgasm a day. I repeat, this is fictional.

This would leave the average man my age declaring he’s 18 000 orgasms old compared to the average woman my age who might say she is, um, 203 orgasms old, if men had anything to do with it. Interesting aside question; would you exaggerate your orgasm age, or understate it? And in what way is that any different to how many lie about their age. Whatever the measurement, I guess we like to keep people guessing.

But years is indeed the measurement the ‘powers that be’ chose, and even that can be challenged.

I’m 50 years old on earth because a year is what our beautiful planet takes to circumnavigate the sun. Other planets take less or more time, so technically, I’m only 50 Earth years old.

Mercury takes 88 days to circle the sun. Venus, 224 days. Mars, 687 days. Uranus, 30800 days. And I only included Uranus because it makes me and (let’s be honest) all of you chuckle. This is a planet that is severely prejudiced by its own name. Neptune however has a rock star name because clearly there are no Greek Gods named Uranus, proving that even the ancient Greeks found it funny. Correction. I just googled the Greek God Uranus, and he does indeed exist, so the laugh is on you ancient Greeks. Regardless, Neptune takes a staggering 60 190 days to circle the sun.

At this point I’d like to ask all nerds and trolls to not get too critical about my facts or my calculations. The facts are from Google and Math was never my strong point. It’s the principle I’d like you to think about. Because while I’m 50 earth years old right now, I’d be a different age if we were all on a different planet. I’d be roughly 207 mercury years old today. 81 Venus years old.  26 and a half Mars years old. 7 Uranus months old or just over 3 and a half ‘Rock star’ Neptune months old. Of all of these ages I find my Mercury age most appealing, obviously because it makes me sound wise and threatening, like a Vampire.

I guess I’m suggesting that time, or at least age, is indeed relative.

The powers that be might easily have decided to state our age by the amount of km’s we’ve traveled while on this earth, which is in itself an interesting (and I need to remind you, not necessarily accurate) measurement.

We humans are essentially spinning around this earth at 1666km/h (if you’re on the equator) while simultaneously crabbing sideways some 942, 2 million km’s around the sun, giving me the rather respectable total distance travelled in my lifetime to 47 billion km’s, not counting my numerous trips to Greyton and back. I think 47 Billion km’s old is a rather magnificent sounding age and I might just stick to that if anyone should ask. I might even campaign for the government to include this as a legitimate way to state your age on tax returns. Besides, what do they care how old I am?  It’s my salary they really care about.

But it’s also occurred to me that age in years is a rather finite, set-in-stone measurement that is not at all consistent with how we measure everything else. Nearly everything you can think about, as exact as it is, has another way to describe it. You can, quite literally use different words and numbers to describe exactly the same thing, and people’s understanding is exactly the same.

1 degree Celsius is also known as 34 degrees Fahrenheit. So today in Cape Town it’s both 24 degrees Celsius and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 1 km is also .6 miles. 1 cm is .4 of an inch. 1 kg is 2.2 pounds. 1 foot is .3 metres. So, I’m both 5 foot 9 inches and 1.75 metres tall. I’m also 72 kg (the exact weight I was when I turned 21 *he writes smugly) and 158 pounds and also 11.3 stone, whatever that is. I guess I’m suggesting there must be other, more descriptive ways that might also give everyone a greater, deeper sense of who I am. I believe we should have a few ages.

I think there’s room for a physical age. Maybe an intellectual age. Even a maturity age.

Looking at myself in the mirror this morning, I think I’m looking quite good for a 50-year old. So, I’m boldly going to suggest my physical age is 49. Maybe 49 and 9 months on a bad day. I think my intellectual age is 42, because there are a few things I haven’t done, a few places I haven’t seen, a few books I haven’t read and, because I still don’t fully understand how TVs work, a few things I need to learn about. More importantly, I think my maturity age ranges anywhere between 14 and 60. Some days I surprise myself at how I’ve handled things. On other days, I feel like I know jack shit and I need to grow up. But on average, I’m going to suggest I’m a 50-year old man with the heart and spirit of a 24-year old.

So, that’s me. I’m 50 years old today, as well as 57 400 meals old, 166 000 farts old, 47 billion km’s old, 49 physical years old, 45 knowledge years old and 24-ish maturity years old.

I’ve left my orgasm age out because, obviously, I haven’t been counting, and I’d rather keep you guessing.

That’s my story. And I’m going to stick to it on this very weird day