Why do we become more solemn as we age?

When I was much younger I wondered why older people seemed grimmer, smiled less, and often were party poopers. You went to them with your youthful excitement to tell them your latest endeavor, yet you were not greeted in kind but were offered instead words of caution.

Now, as I reflect back I understand. As we grow older and life hits us with troubles, loss, and unexpected crushing turns, of course, we become more cautious, grimmer and much more realistic, almost afraid of the next drawback ahead. Reality bites but it’s the sequence of life, a progression from discovery in youth to first-hand knowledge in old age.

The progression and cycles of awareness are present at every stage of life. As I was reading a poem with my students last week about death and how at every age death means something different. In youth, luckily, it’s an abstract idea, at middle age a possibility, in old age an almost tangible constant thought and reality. Thus, we become much more solemn.

I still smile a lot and have happy moments, but I live differently now, more solemnly. It’s time for my young nieces and nephews to enjoy carefree happiness, enthusiasm and the thirst for adventure without caution. It’s their turn and I will be watching because now it’s my time to sit back and pray they make the most of it!


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