Age is Just a Number

Age is just a number like gasoline is just a liquid.  I turned 50 this last year, and I’m suddenly aware of how resistant people are to growing old.  I’m no stranger to midlife crisis, I assure you, but sayings like ‘age is just a number’ or ‘you’re only as old as you feel’ are complete bullshit.  COMPLETE bullshit.

And the more people that say, much less believe, those things, the worse it is for the rest of the population that is transitioning to a new stage in our lives.  Yes, it is new. We should be excited about that.  People in my age group aren’t dead yet, and we still have lots to contribute.  In fact, we have things to contribute that you can’t buy on QVC.  Things like wisdom, experience, maturity, etc. Things that are much more valuable than fashion trends, taste in popular music or expiring lower back tattoos.

I’ve lived an amazing life, and continue to live in an amazing world. But, and this is a big but (Sir Mix-A-Lot references are not welcome here), my world is significantly different now. I could mourn the loss of my youth, my ability to mix socially with the youth of today, or even the choices in wardrobe that are inappropriate for me now, or I can step up, embrace my current social status, and offer to share my experiences – both good and bad – with people who are not only in my position, but with the knowledge hungry youth that are painfully searching for answers to questions that we’ve all had to ask ourselves on our life journeys.

I’m a firm believer that looking backwards is the wrong direction to be looking. I can already hear somebody saying that it’s never too late to change your life.  I agree with that to a certain extent, but at the same time, it can be too late to relive your youth.  No offense intended, but I don’t even want to be lost and stupid again.  I had a great time walking that path, but I know too much now to enjoy it again.  I’m not sad that I don’t wake up with hangovers anymore.  I’m not sad that I can recognize something that is too good to be true, and understand that it isn’t true. I’m not sad that I don’t perceive compromising my morals as some kind of fast track to popularity.

The reason that I’m not sad about those things is because I firmly embrace my position in life, and that I understand that my age isn’t just a number.  It isn’t a thing that I can ignore. It isn’t even a thing that I want to ignore. It’s something that I strive to celebrate.

I was at a party this year with a mix of older and younger people who are all involved in community theater.  For the first time in my recollection, I was relegated to the ‘old people’ table. Much like Mohammed, Jugdish, Sidney and Clayton from ‘Animal House’, there was no other place for me.  While the ‘kids’ were whooping it up in the living room, I was trapped with the older generations in the kitchen.  But you know, that was where the food was, and all I could see as a spectator watching the ‘in crowd’ was the inevitable disappointment and rejection that awaited me if I tried to crash THEIR party. The problem with being the old guy is that nobody tells you that you’ve transitioned from being the ‘cool’ dude who ‘gets it’ to the creepy old fart who doesn’t belong.

I have a little pride left in me, but that doesn’t mean I can keep chasing the chicks like I used to because I still feel like I’m 25.  Instead, I choose to accept my place and not suffer any more than I have to just by breathing. I have great memories.  I hope to make plenty more, but with a shred of dignity.



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