It puzzled me as I stood across the desk from him. An expert in gerontology, who joined the field decades ago as a young graduate.
"How did you know what aging could be like, when you were so young?", I asked. He pulled out a bin filled with low-fidelity simulation tools to show me what it feels like to be elderly. Not distinguishing the correct colours for your pills. Seeing black patches with a reduced field of vision. Loosing dexterity. "You don't really, when you start out". These little experiments were nonetheless a good start. An empathy-builder to be sure.
Gerontology and palliative care strike me as some of those disciplines for which life experience is something of a pre-requisite. Yet they are also fields that desperately need young people, in preparation for an ageing population.
The questions I asked him, I ask myself lately. I can't help but wonder how a young person like myself can possibly feel curiosity towards topics so remote from her own experience.
But then I remember I am a curious person. The fact there is no right way to age, no right way to die- the fact we are each forced to find our own unique voice through these paths, makes it intimate, delicate, and complex. It also makes it deeply human, inevitable and curiously universal.