While attending a charity basketball event at Madison Square Garden with my buddy Zach, I was lucky enough to meet three of my favorite New York Knicks who were graciously donating their time to a worthy cause. I first encountered 43-year-old former Knick Anthony Mason, who appears to be strictly adhering to The Charles Barkley Post-Retirement Diet. I then met 22-year-old rising star Wilson Chandler, a man of few words, who lets his game do the talking (Simply put, he makes the magician Teller seem chatty).
Fortunately, the third Knick I met was more engaging. Danilo Gallinari, the 20-year-old Italian chosen sixth in last year’s NBA Draft, was quite personable. Zach and I spoke to Danilo about the upcoming season and his summer rehabilitation program (the nearly 7- foot-tall “small forward” played in only 28 games of his rookie season due to severe back problems). Gallinari told us that he was feeling much better and that he was optimistic about the team’s chances next season (Hey, at least someone is).
When it was time to go, we decided to ask Danilo if we could take a photo with him (see above). We didn’t think it would be a big deal, and neither did the young Knick, who gladly stood up (making me look shorter than Danny DeVito) and smiled alongside us. It’s always nice to have your photo taken with a celebrity. But never before had we asked to have our pictures taken with one who was born in the same year as us!
As a kid you worship your heroes (many of whom are your elders). Your musical icons are gods, and you aspire to be your favorite action heroes and sports stars (The aforementioned Danny Glover has actually been both for me…in addition to his work in Lethal Weapon, who can forget his inspirational portrayal as baseball manager George Knox in Angels in the Outfield ?)
But what happens when one day the people occupying these roles are younger than you. Is there no more poignant symbol of the aging process?
As a soon-to-be college junior, I am moving closer to the true beginning of the rest of my life. Sure, growing older has its perks. Increased freedom and the chance to confront new challenges is exciting. Yet adulthood’s differences and uncertainties make it frightening. It seems like everything you gain with age is balanced out by some kind of loss. Yeah, I can’t wait to find out where my career pursuits take me… but I don’t want my professional advances met with my hairline’s regression! I’m also eager to see the world, but I don’t want to have to do it through a pair of thick glasses!
I wish I could comprehensively share my feelings about aging through writing. Unfortunately, I just don’t have that much experience with this process. And perhaps that’s where my problem lies. Maybe I’m simply too young to be so pensive about this subject.
I guess all I can do now is heed the advice of beloved singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, and accept growing older… but never up.