By Christopher Seifert
This growing up thing is pretty overrated.
Not long ago, I slid back into Dale”s silver chair at the BYU Barbershop.
Admittedly, I cringed just a little then. I”ve never been a fan of the contrived conversation apparently requisite at such establishments, but I”d reached my limit of shaggy-hair tolerance, so I freely chose to endure my 20-minute captivity nonetheless.
The conversation that day was surprisingly pleasant until Dale launched an unexpected query.
“Are you married?” he asked as thick, dark clumps of hair tumbled off my bib and onto the floor.
“Nope,” I said.
“Now that surprises me,” Dale continued in his usually avuncular manner. “I would have guessed you”re a married man.”
I paused. The observation disturbed me a bit. This wasn”t the first time I”d received such a comment, certainly, so I decided to take the offensive and press Dale on the issue.
“Why do you say that?” I asked as nonchalantly as I could manage.
He shrugged. “You just seem like someone shouldering some extra responsibility.”
At the time, I wasn”t sure how to interpret the comment, but afraid of the additional insights a clarification might bring, I chose to chalk it up as a compliment.
Honestly, however, I think what Dale and a lot of other people are telling me is this: You look old.
It”s true, I”ve often joked I”m 24 going on 40, but it occurs to me, as BYU prepares to kick me out the door, I”ve been going about this aging thing all wrong.
I remember sitting in my first-grade classroom one day feeling a tad bit melancholy.
“It will take forever to actually grow up,” I thought.
But while a lot has happened between then and now, and I stand planted on what must surely be adulthood, I realize it didn”t take forever – and maybe that”s a sad thing.
That”s why I”m grateful a 99-year-old friend of mine has taught the best thing about aging is you don”t necessarily have to.
My friend attended the University of Nebraska as a young woman, and, since Cornhusker football is one of my boyhood passions, the two of us hit it off right away.
The woman has virtually lived that eternity I saw in first grade – across a century of automobiles and airplanes, world wars and depression, moon landings and the Internet.
And while she might jokingly tell you otherwise, she”s far from bored with life. She”s always ready with a witty one-liner, and, remarkably, she always laughs – loudly, heartily and sincerely.
“I may just outlive you,” she recently told her great-grandson with a devilish grin.
Watching her, it occurs to me adulthood isn”t something we need aspire to. I should probably make an effort to look a little less responsible, spend a little more time enjoying where I”m at and a little less worrying about where I”m going.
I can only hope that”s something I too will have figured out by the time I really do grow up.