My dad often says to me "Getting old stinks, don’t do it". I think I’m starting to catch on to what he means. Birthdays force you to think about things you don’t want to think about, they force you to come to some realizations. And I use realizations, because unlike new years resolutions that are goals, realizations are an after the fact you can’t change them. What I came to a realization about this time around was pretty big for me – I learned what the difference between being young and being old really is. I’m in China on a shoot right now, and on the cover of one of the big national newspapers is a huge image of a young woman crushing a ping pong ball. The national ping pong (yes I know some people call it table tennis but here they say ping pong so for now I do too) championships were being held in Guangzhou and I guess it was hot news. My initial reaction was condescending boredom, but after my quick flight to Guilin, and walking by crowds watching the games on TV, and a bus ride to Yangshuo, where we drove by kids playing ping pong on anything they could find, I came to the realization that maybe I was the one who hadn’t figured out how cool ping pong was.
So I did my research and have decided, much to the amusement of the kids who watch us climb everyday and think we are ‘super rad’, that ping pong is cooler than rock climbing. Here’s why:
4) Its an Olympic sport. Like it or not this is the largest yardstick that all sports are measured by, and climbing isn’t and won’t be for any time in the near future be on this map. Hell I bet we see pin pong in the x-games over a pit of fire before climbing gets its second chance here. 3) Professional Ping Pong players make more money. I don’t really know how much money they make [even after hours of google] but I know how much pro climbers make so it has to be more. 2) The weather doesn’t affect conditions and they don’t have to starve themselves to be really good. 1) Ping Pong is the worlds largest participation sport (Says the Olympics website, with 40 million competitive players alone worldwide!). Think about it, just about everyone has tried ping pong in their lifetimes – nuff said.
Ok so what does all of this have to with the difference between young and old?
Simple, old isn’t a number and neither is young — both are reflective on your way of living. To me, to be young means that you are naïve about things at times whether you admit it or not. It’s the young ones that are constantly looking for ways to learn about the world, about themselves. It’s the young ones that evolve themselves and evolve their surroundings. ‘Old’ people are those that are set in their ways. They see things that may be different but they don’t attempt to learn or understand them. They know that they may be wrong at times but they are ok with it. Its almost like an enlightenment… ‘I’m happy knowing what I know so why would I want to change that…’ So for now I’m 27 years young… and I plan on staying this way for a while. —tk