On Getting Old

I am finally coming to grips that I am no longer a young man. I am no longer in a targeted demographic and not only have the leaves fallen from the trees in the seasons of my life, the first cold blush of winter is fast approaching.

Last week a dear friend whom I’ve known since we were both in our early 30s turned 60. I sent him a birthday greeting inscribed:

Turning 30: We couldn’t wait. We were now adults.
Turning 40: We laughed it off by exchanging nose hair clippers as gifts.
Turning 50: We rationalized it. 50 is still middle age, right?
But damn Skippy, 60 is OLD!

And with us both being part of that generation that was decimated by AIDS in the 1990s, I hastened to add, “But all that really matters is that you’re still here and I am so happy because of that!”

My dad always told me that the 30s were the best years of one’s life and that I should live them to the fullest. Unfortunately I squandered the greater portion of that decade pining over a man who would never give me what I wanted and trying desperately to fill the void that left behind, but when I look back I’d have to say that yes, in spite of that I still worked those years for all they were worth. [oink]

But it wasn’t until my 40s—and the cancer diagnosis halfway through that decade—that I finally became comfortable in my own skin. Instead of constantly beating myself up over not ever losing those 20 pounds so I would feel confident enough to wear a tank top to the Pride Parade, it was far easier (and more satisfying) to just accept who I was, love it, and move on.

And with apologies to my dad, I would have to say that my 50s—despite the career ups and downs—has been if not the best, then at least the most…satisfying so far.

Now I’m not even remotely close to having one foot in the grave yet, but if I am to be completely honest with myself—based solely on the lifespans of the men in my family—and barring anything unforeseen (accident, incurable terminal illness, being sent to a Nazi Death Camp or Nuclear annihilation stemming from an ill-timed Presidential tweet), I probably have about another 25-30 years ahead of me.

And I’m okay with that. Being this age affords me the luxury of no longer suffering fools gladly and allows me to speak my mind perhaps more often than I probably ought to and still get away with it. Of course it also has drawbacks, almost all of them physical. I can’t go bounding up and down stairs the way I used to. Getting up off the floor has become a major proposition. And the knees. OMG, the knees. But considering the other myriad health issues I’ve dealt with over the course of my life, this stuff is small potatoes.

And I love small potatoes!


One Reply to “On Getting Old”

  1. As someone who survived three different illnesses that I shouldn’t have and each time was hours away from death, I share the same attitude as you do but I never thought to attribute it to my age. I never woke up thinking oh thank God I’m alive and live my life accordingly like every TV movie you see. Recovery for me was way more painful than dying. It took me several years until I fully understood how living or surviving changed me. I’m honest; almost brutally but not mean. I find that people are scared by this kind of honesty and don’t trust me because it. I mean honest about real things—not the size of your ass in those jeans. I know I’m not scared of death. But I do have to think or re-examine if part of my outlook is also because I’ll be 53 this year and somehow I have survived with No scars or debilitations or limitations my doctor says I’m the healthiest sick person she’s ever met. Thanks for sharing this.

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