“Every time when I look in the mirror,
All these lines on my face getting clearer.
The past is gone.
It went by, like dusk to dawn.”
I don’t want to grow old. I refuse to “go gentle into that good night” and will “rage against the dying of the light,” as Dylan Thomas put it.
I define “oldness” as a crescendo of blandness, diminished enthusiasm for life, less arousal/passion, and heightened fatigue. So set in our ways that we can no longer open our minds to accept we don’t know it all.
I am fighting it, even as I know I’m moving a little bit slower, naps are highly underrated, and I’m growing way more comfortable staying in for a night of Netflix binge-viewing than going out and partying in a nightclub.
A night out is fun on occasion, but my speed is more sipping a beer while sitting on a deck listening to someone play acoustic covers. I am that guy who will ask for the WiFi password when going into a bar because at least then I can count on not getting bored.
I have zero interest in starting an evening of fun at 9 pm. If a social gathering were going on right now, I’d probably just sit back and watch the others. I really don’t liquor up anymore because I hate 3-day hangovers, and day drinking and shots are only feasible on week-long vacations.
The Changes Keep Coming
I was never cool or stylish, though.
It sort of feels like everyone expects me to melt into the background instead of being center stage. Just go over there and be quiet. Try not to embarrass yourself.
I can relate to those Hollywood starlets who start getting offered roles as the mother instead of the hot chick. But at least I have reassurances that gray hair looks distinguished.
When I watch Awards shows I literally do not recognize ANY of the entertainers. It feels a tad creepy looking at these statuesque women who I recognize from sitting watching the Disney channel with my kid while she was growing up; clearly they’ve grown up too. When I watch Miley Cyrus thrust her crotch on stage, my first thought isn’t “Oooh, that’s hot,” but rather, “Oooh, she’s going to regret doing that.”
Then again, maybe she’ll look back at that footage, roll her eyes, and say that she wishes she still had that rockin’ body.
It’s tough to look at yourself in the mirror and realize that gravity can be seen, just it’s in slow motion. At the same time, youth may sell products in ads, but “imperfections” make for infinitely more fascinating portraits.
How Did This Happen?
I don’t know the exact moment when I crossed that threshold between having my whole life ahead of me and realizing how much time had snuck up behind me. Those Monday mornings sure do pile up when you aren’t paying close attention.
One minute you are trying to climb a latter, the next you’re preparing for a soft landing when you retire.
I’m trying to stay up to speed on technology so I do not become one of those folks who need a grandkid to set up the computer. It all changes so fast, though.
What Goes Around, Comes Around
In spite of all these things (possibly because of these things), I tend to feel more attracted to people who are younger than me over people who have comfortably settled into patterns of being “old.”
When I meet a cool-seeming person in their early twenties, I think, “Wow, I wish I was like them.” When I meet some smug jackass in their twenties or thirties who is looking down his or her nose at me, I think, “I can’t wait until you get older so some little prick can make you feel old as hell…”
Someone recently guessed that I am 15 youngers than my real age. That was flattering. I do have a babyface. When the last bunch I worked with found out my age on my birthday, they treated me differently. They began excluding me from jokes or doing fun things. It felt really awkward and hurt my feelings.
I should have seen it coming, though. During a haircut, the stylist suggested coloring my hair. I went along with it, and the next day at a staff meeting, one of the younger hipsters on staff callously blurted out, “Oh, you colored your hair…”
Yeah, thanks for pointing that out to everyone.
It’s an absolute delight when I meet someone 10, 20 or 30 years older who still has that fun-loving quality. I recently watched an old lady comically drop an F-bomb to break the tension during a contentious discussion. It’s good to know we can still surprise people.
Can you imagine my generation in nursing homes, cranking up Motley Crue the way they have entertainers come in now to sing Elvis ballads?
It’s Not All Bad
There are some benefits to growing older. I’m less neurotic and way more confident than the 21-year-old version of myself. I’m great at trivia. I feel less guilty about taking care of my own needs.
I have some money stashed away so I’m not just poor all of the time. And everything I loved as a kid is being recycled for a new generation that is clueless that Chris Pine wasn’t the first James T. Kirk.
A Changed Man, Still Evolving
I have way less patience for other peoples’ bullshit than I used to. Drama? You go right ahead, I’ll be over here watching.
When I was younger, it felt angsty to be single or not out there trying to get some smooches. Now I don’t feel even a little weird about being single. Auditioning for someone else’s approval feels silly.
I feel less fear of missing out. And intellectually, I know that in 20 years, I will look back and marvel at how young I still was in 2019.
I hope I will have made the time matter. I hope I have the guts and the opportunity to not care so much what other people think of me and do what makes me happy.
That’s what it’s all about. Not growing older but growing better, becoming a more complete human being.
I’m happy that others I grew up with have followed the script and are content to now wait for a good death.
I want to live, dammit!