Tag Archives: Georgi Gospodinov

Quanta of Aging

The Physics of Sorrow

I’m not talking about old age. I’m talking about the first signs. Not about night, but about dusk. About its irresistible incursions and the first fallen fortresses.

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Once, when Aya was three, she came home from kindergarten in tears, because a boy had told her that fathers get old. Fathers get old, she said, sobbing. She glanced at me for a second, fully expecting to hear me disavow this and since I couldn’t think of anything—I’m terribly slow-witted when I have to lie—she burst into tears again, even more hopelessly.

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There is some sort of grammar of aging.

Childhood and youth are full of verbs. You can’t sit still. Everything in you is growing, gushing forth, developing. Later the verbs are gradually replaced by the nouns of middle age. Kids, cars, work, family—the substantial things of the substantives.

Growing old is an adjective. We enter into the adjectives of old age—slow, boundless, hazy, cold, or transparent like glass.

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There is also a mathematics of aging, a simple set theory.

We change the world’s proportions over the years. Those younger than we are grow ever more numerous, while the number of those older than we are declines menacingly.

Aging requires a certain audacity. It may not be audacity, but resignation.

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