Unless you are 20 years old, it doesn’t work. It can’t work. The banana can never be green again.
Twenty is not a cultural touchstone. It is the epicenter of only that universe. Twenty is when kids are figuring it out. Youthful appearance and attitude are cultural currency for that generation, but not tender as the years ripen.
To be 20 implies that something was missed, like failing to pick up the dry cleaning. Since the late 1960s, consumerism is geared toward the youth market, and as the boomers aged it was the ambition of many to dial back the years, strip off the varnish and loosen your load. Get that body back in shape, color the hair, get some hair, lose the glasses and party like it was 1969. Body sculpting, dumping your personal life, hanging out with the mods.
Twenty was when life was all about possibilities, few responsibilities and fewer consequences. Everything was ahead of you, not behind you. The skin had tone, the eyes were clear and you could stay up all night. I never worried about dry cleaning.
No one wants to be looking at the back-end of their life, even if you appreciate everything you have created or been a part of. As you get to the end of the toilet paper, the roll spins faster, that’s for sure. If you are lucky enough to retire, and be healthy, with some disposable income, those are precious times. Why would you want to be 20, and have 40 years of work ahead?
We fantasize about what great things we used to have, but to be that age again with a maturity mind and an ounce of sense, we did not possess then. A mature mind inside of a kid’s body.
The Beach Boys sang: “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older, then we wouldn’t have to wait so long?” I don’t think Brian Wilson and Tony Asher meant to be a senior citizen. Older, but not that old.
When you are of a certain age, what you wish for is to have more time, be healthier, have made better choices and live with fewer regrets. I don’t have to be 20 to listen to Billie Eilish, or to enjoy Captain Marvel. I might not get the same kind of satisfaction or identify with the cultural references, but I don’t have to. Having an intellectual filter that spans multiple decades and a reasonable base of knowledge, the experience I get might have a different emotional depth and color pallet. Bonus.
Even though the movie and music markets are dominated by artists and stories directed toward a different age demographic, the universe is wide enough that I can find art that matches my interests. The world is large enough that I’m not alone, although my social circle is smaller than it used to be. Even if at times you feel alone in the universe, we are not.
Try to be 20? No thanks.
[Please ask me, where do you come up with your ideas? They come from everywhere. The idea for this blog came from browsing a copy of Rolling Stone at the neighborhood library. It was nothing in particular, just realizing the magazine tries to entertain folks at both ends of the age spectrum.]