I'm scared. I had an uneasy sleep last night, worrying about a lot of things. In particular, I worried about time, about myself getting old. At age 46, it seems absurd that I'm feeling old. Yet, that's how I'm feeling these days, and it is not going away.

    I have long realized that ten years is a long time, a long time that many many things will happen. Actually it is such a long time that it changes a person, almost completely ← looking back myself ten years ago, the life I had, the state I was in, the look, the body, the spirit, the activities, the people around me, the person I cared for... everything, has changed. How alarming! I remember telling Siqi of this theory while sitting on a stair in Shenzhen after a day's walking around — I felt such a wise person to say that, as if I figured out a secret of life. To her, this must sound like wisdom, cause her whole life hasn't been counted much in ten-year marks. But at the time I said it without realizing how brutal this also means, and how sad it is since nothing can be done to stop time, and nothing can be done to turn back — ten years, is such a long time, such a long time.

    But then, last night I started to count how I came to be ← if counting my life in this step, it only takes two ten-years from mid-20s to where I am today, not much at all really, no wonder I still remember clearly the days of twenty years ago, still struggle with the same type of things i struggled twenty years ago, still feel I was like twenty years ago, though in reality, everything has changed, everyone has gone.

    Life starts at 0, but the first ten doesn't leave much since you don't remember. Then the next ten, where Noah is in right now, he understands some, not much at all, still childish or child-like, immature, unthoughtful, lost touch of yourself like this morning that he wakes up early, sitting across the table to me at Panera doing his homework, but without know why he feels down (beats me! he is just a moody kid, sometimes I wonder), and how he should/could handle it, such a clueless, rough age.

    Then, we are counting the third ten-year already(!), the prime of life — wonderful time, young, healthy, full of energy, full of possibility, full of dream, hope, fantasy, full of adventure, full of bad decisions, trials and errors, full of excitements, full of false feeling of independence, surrounded by supports, from family, friends, foes, people who want to please you, who want to take advantage of you, who want to be close to you, who want to fool you, who genuinely like or love you, who, in most cases, are also in this same period of life, thus feeling you are all alike, and you are in sync with everybody, and you are not alone, and you strive to be the same, and even to stand out. You yearn for being alone, as if the crowd around you is suffocating. But dear, it's only because you haven't tasted the truth of loneliness — you can hardly be alone at this age, that's why you feel being alone is different, cooler, and wiser. Wait till the loneliness comes to you, surrounds you, and drowns you. It's not fun.

    Then, the fourth ten-year, 30-40 now. Not bad, family, kid, marriage, more adult like now, feels life could be like this, forever, busy, perhaps, career driven, most likely, as if in reach to grab the next fortune, to become the next world-changing person. But anxiety, really unimportant trivia like family, wife, husband, kids, all the wonderful things really, that start to turn color and become a source of frustration.

    Then, without knowing much, 40s, the fifth ten-year now in life. Boy, don't I feel old now! I can hardly imagine when I'm in 50s, a common definition that I'll then be an old guy! My Goad, how scary — too quickly, too soon. Before you can be ready (and how can anyone be ready for this!?), it's here. No more the same body, same look, same health, same possibility, same hopefulness. Everything seems to be becoming to its end, slowing down, ramping down, turning off, losing ground. You look back, quite some miles you have covered; looking forward, quite some miles ahead. But the fun part of the journey is over, and why should I continue on then?

    So this is life, counting in ten-years, such a short short short time. Ten years, so long that everything is changed; so short, that you only could to the fifth to be old. Is life long, or short then!? It's short, I would say, short for it doesn't give you a second chance, doesn't give you back what you have lost, doesn't make you stronger, better, just older, older so that you reason, to yourself, you don't need that strength anymore.

    But the truth is, it's not too long, nor too short. Its only fault is that there were moments in it that you wish to stay, but can not. Like the moment we sit at the stair talking about this ten-year marks; like the trip to this unknown temple that even locals don't visit; like the recording booth in the middle of this busy, loud, arcade; like the crazily chilly weekend the cold front hit the city; like watching over the city night from top of this little hill, feeling the breeze of an early spring; like riding on the back seat of bus after saying farewell to the poor little thing who passed in our caring... if only could be kept, could be replayed, could be relived.

    — by Feng Xia


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