On getting older
I celebrated my 43rd birthday on Wednesday this week. It was a nice day, I'd managed to move almost all agency work off my plate. I worked with things pertaining to my upcoming fantasy novel, Automatonen (in Swedish only, for now), including the cover reveal and release date announcement which went out on Thursday. You can find all of that on my Swedish blog, if you're curious. I'd wager most of you won't understand much of what it says, but there are mockups of the cover at least. There's a small site for the book, too.
Anyway, this letter is about getting older.
Growing older is an interesting thing. Not the actual aging so much as the way we talk about it. The amount of times people said or wrote that it's craaazy that I'm forty-three already amazes me. It's because my age reminds them of their age, which makes sense when you're talking to friends and family that you've know for a long time.
I'm writing this on Friday afternoon, and you'll get it on Sunday. I don't feel older than I did at the beginning of the week. Technically I am, obviously – time marches on – but I don't feel it, not really.
Which isn't to say that I haven't aged. My body isn't in the same shape or form that it was when I was thirty. My twenty year-old self would outrace me, but I'm stronger today. I'm also heavier, wider, with more meat (and fat) on my bones. It's harder to get up in the morning, I don't want to do all-nighters anymore, and while I can get into crunch mode as well as anyone, I tend not to. There was a time when I had so many projects going on at the same time because I just didn't get tired. That's long passed.
None of that has much to do with age, I think. I could've been just as thin as I was in my thirties if I'd prioritized that, but I don't. I'd rather be strong and live a pleasant life. I could write all night, but I'd rather be sleeping. It's not my age, or my body, that says no, it's my priorities.
I keep hearing people, often developers and freelance creatives, saying that they were faster workers when they were younger. I don't get that at all. I'm working less than I did when I started out, and yet I'm producing more value. For developers especially, as long as you learn new things, there's just no way you were a better developer ten years ago. Hell, it's likely you're better today than you were last month.
Growing old isn't scary to me. I don't mind it, if anything it's better than the alternative. While I have changed, I'm as silly as I ever was, and so is my wife. We're goofing around daily, if you heard us you'd have a hard time guessing our age. I don't remember my parents doing that, nor my friends' parents, but this is probably due to the child's point of view, and ignorance. Growing old might be more of a social construct than anything else. Except the addition of time, of course.
That's my takeaway from the conversations I've had this week: That you are, indeed, as old as you feel. While your age is something related to the time you've spent alive, getting old is a state of mind. The same goes for being young, too, although it's a moniker that only makes sense when talking about people of a young age. Or when people are talking about how they were, once upon a time, a sparkle in their eyes. That, I think, is the definition of growing old.
Thank you all for your input on what to add to the letter. A, to me, surprising amount of you missed the links that I used to include, so they're back. Less extensive though, I'm going to try to keep this section short and sweet. We'll see how it goes.
🧓 The puzzling gap between how old you are and how old you think you are over at The Atlantic is strangely on point with today's topic.
🤖 The age of AI has begun proclaims Bill Gates over at his blog. It shouldn't surprise anyone that Gates is thrilled with the prospect of AI, and what it can do to help tackle the health problems of the world.
🐌 The slow learning manifesto is pretty on point.
✍🏻 Blank Page is a simple writing app that lives in your browser. Save to download a text file. I'm liking it. Fun fact: I was involved in a startup with (almost) the same name. We wanted to help people write books. Unfortunately, it never really took off, and it's now defunct.
Got something I should read? Send it to me, either by replying to this letter, or tweeting to @tdh. Thanks!
📚 I'm reading my second Bret Easton Ellis novel ever, and incidentally it's his second one, called The Rules of Attraction.
🎵 Lana Del Rey released her new album, Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd, and I like it thus far.
📺 I've opted not to start watching Succession yet, as I prefer there to be a few episodes available. It's mostly been simple shows, like Fauda, the past week due to the workload.
🎮 The only thing I've played this week is Slay the Spire. I advice you to avoid this game, it'll suck you in otherwise.
I should be sitting in the sun sipping wine when you get this. While my birthday was this Wednesday, the coming days will be a celebration of sorts, too. I'm in Nice, France, with my wife, enjoying some much needed time off.
Until next week, take care.
— Thord D. Hedengren ⚡
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