Thursday, March 6, 2014

On Turning 55...

As of March 6th, I am 55 years old. I've been sitting here, trying to come up with something profound, but it's just not happening. And I think it's not happening because I just can't seem to muster enough bluster to make a fuss about it. And I think I can't muster enough bluster to make a fuss because in the final analysis, it's ultimately no big deal.

Happy Birthday To Me!
Yay, double nickels!
Oh, don't get me wrong. I want a big deal made of my birthday. To me, it is a big deal; just not in any negative way. But if I have to endure one of these every year, then dammit, I want every possible perk I can get! There are already plans afoot to make a fuss of sufficient level to satisfy my outrageous demands, so yes. A fuss is good; I guess I just can't bring myself to get too worried about getting old.

Which I guess is rather fortuitous, because it seems to me that the biggest contributor to getting old before your time is to worry about getting old. Yeah, I know, that kind of rots, but what can you do? You worry, you start doing the whole self-fulfilling prophecy thing. It's like when they say that the best way to walk a tightrope is to not look down.

The day before my birthday, I was walking down a corridor at work thinking, "Hmm...I'm turning why do I feel like I'm still 30?" Ah, who knows. I think obliviousness in this matter works to my advantage. The less I think about it, the less likely I'll wind up as one of those old dudes who stares off into space with his mouth half-open, getting ready to do a shift as a Wal-Mart greeter.

My Dad, The Bad Role-Model
I remember my dad when he was in his 40's. He had bags under his eyes, jowly cheeks, a lot of gray hair, and was overweight. He looked worn out, worn down, and, well, old. Being in my mid-teens, and noting a lot of traits I shared with my father, all I could think of was "Wow, that's what I'm gonna be like in my 40's!"

But that was the ignorance of teenager years. I didn't factor in the harsh realities of my dad's lifestyle. He worked hard, six days a week, from dawn till late at night, at his barely surviving restaurant. He rarely took vacations or rested up, and was always worried about money, since the place never really turned much of a profit. He was stressed at home in an unhappy marriage characterized by lots of loud arguments, and his diet was horrendous, lots of fats, oily foods, red meat; you know, the typical Portuguese fare. I shudder to think what it would've been like if he smoked or drank excessively.

But it seems the only negative thing I have in common with my dad in those matters is that I worry about money. As expected, I'm in a hell of a lot better shape in my mid-50's then my dad was in his mid-40's. He did manage to turn a few things around later on in life, but eventually died of a form of leukemia in 2000. So he died at 71. Barring any unexpected nastiness, that puts me on course of lasting well into my 80's, I reckon. The 90's would be good, just so long as, again, I don't end up as a slack-jawed Wal-Mart greeter.

Keep Your "Getting Old" Gallows Humor To Yourself, Thanks
This is frickin' hysterical, said no one, ever.
There's a whole industry out there dedicated to churning out party supplies of questionable taste, all of them dedicated to making light of the fact that some poor schlub's birthday number is really getting up there. For the record, I hate those kinds of jokes. Despise them. I am on board with the whole idea of laughing at grim situations, but in my case, I see nothing grim about aging. So no, call me crazy, I somehow have managed to fail to mine that pure comedy gold that is limp dicks and loose bowels. And anyone who brings that sort of stuff into my airspace runs the risk of not being able to celebrate any more birthdays themselves!

Speaking of public perceptions of getting older, I need to go off on a tangent and say that I really roll my eyes when someone describes themselves as "I'm fifty-one years young!" No. You're not young. You may feel young, act young, think young, maybe even pass a little for young, but you are most assuredly getting older. Suck up and deal. Denial is more than just a river in Egypt. Now, I do go on record as saying "I'm not old. I'm oldER, maybe, but I'm certainly not old!" That's about as hair-splitting about semantics as I want to get.

Battling Age
I see aging as fighting a holding action against a relentless army who will eventually win no matter what. I am outgunned, outnumbered, and outclassed. I can put up a spirited fight every day, but eventually, time will win. That's just the way it is. But to me, the trick is, not to give ground unless you absolutely have to. Make Father Time fight for every inch of territory gained.

"Allons-y, mes amis! We will turn back the Nazi invaders
and May of 1940 shall be France's most glorious month!"
I think the trick is, if you still enjoy doing the stuff now that you did ten, twenty, thirty years ago, then keep on doing it! As long as you're physically and mentally able to do so, and the interest is still there, and you don't feel stupid doing so, then hey. Why not?

Don't be so quick to ascribe things to getting old when there are still other possible, even likely, explanations. Over the last twelve months, I've been experiencing more soreness in my knees, heels, and back. Oh, gee, must be getting old, right? Well, as my lovely wife has pointed out to me, thanks to some situations that cut into my exercise and eating right regimen, I'm carrying a little more weight than I'm used to, something which causes joint pain in people even half my age. Oh, okay. That's fine then. Get back into shape, and it's all good. And that's happening and sure enough, the aches are fading!

Or forgetting stuff. I do that sometimes. I completely space out on some things, and sometimes even recollect them incorrectly ("Look, I distinctly remember parking the car on the left side of the lot! Absolutely! Oh..there it is on the right hand side! Derp!"). A senior moment? Nope. Not when I remember that I have always walked around with my head in the clouds. I have a 22-track mind, and it's always working, what with that imagination of mine running 24/7. I tend to be rather distracted a lot, and that inevitably results in forgetting things. I guess I just forgot that I can be forgetful. Mystery solved.

Sure, there are some concessions I have to make to age. We all do. For example, I wear reading glasses now because my desire to understand the words on a page has overridden my dislike of looking like an old person stereotype.  And while the aches and  pains in legs and feet had more to do with extra weight put on them, it is true that as you get older, your body is less forgiving about having to carry that extra poundage. And let's not get into what happens if you eat too much or too spicy food just before going to bed.

Still haven't gotten my AARP card yet, despite the awesome discounts. I don't know. It seems so, elderly. It also sounds like an onomatopoeia for a burp. "AAAARP! Oh, sorry, that one escaped me!"

And So...
Why so Sirius?
Be thankful that there's no official manual out there that gives the guidelines as to age-appropriate behavior, thus no one can legitimately tell you to "act your age".   The way I see it, you're never too old to learn something new, try something different, or even change your mind or opinion about something. Keeping a teachable spirit. Yeah, that's what it's all about. And definitely don't take yourself too seriously (leave that for the late teens and twentysomethings out there! Bwah!).

And now, as for me, it's time to enjoy my birthday. There will be a nice long run at the Y, and then pizza and beer later on. Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to you, and God bless!

1 comment:

  1. 55 as of Aug 1st. I love it and I feel about 38... :)
    Enlightening article, will keep for future inspiration.