Top 10 of 55
Watching TV, I’m starting to lose some of the dialogue.
In a crowded room of people, I can barely hear anyone. I’m more lip-reading than anything.
There are distances I can’t see. Further than my arm, but closer than 10’ is the “dead zone”.
Glasses aren’t helping.
I don’t know any “popular” music or celebrities.
My kids and wife question just about everything I say.
Even I’m not sure about me. Was that a memory, thought or dream? All are equally “real”.
Taste and smell might actually have enhanced in past years. Or maybe that’s just by way of comparison to the loss of other senses.
Weird bumps, less hair, more fat, slower recovery, aches and pains.
Starting to understand why Viagra was invented.
At age 55 I’m experiencing life in new ways.
I’ve been drunk to the point of “tunnel vision”. It was a while ago, but as I remember it. Things are fine for a while, and then the periferial vision started to go away. Where used to be “things”… is now darkness. As time progresses, that darkness continued to gain ground, until at it’s peak, all that can be seen is what’s right in front of me.
This experience is a preview of aging.
My senses are betraying me. Day by day, I’m getting a little worse. Not so much that acquaintances can tell, but those familiar with me can probably tell. They must realize they are repeating things for me now. I’m not remembering everything, and I don’t hear everything. Both of these truths, result in my requesting repeated input.
Add to the fact that I’m getting uglier. Every day you go to bed at this age, you know that tomorrow you will wake up uglier. For me, that’s not a big deal, but for some, I can imagine this is pretty devastating. It doesn’t bother me too much because as a young man, I told my wife, my goal was to die looking like an old crusty pirate, or maybe one of those dolls that have old, dried apples for heads. I want a face that tells a story. Wrinkles that can produce echoes from their depth. Brown leather skin that looks like it would make good shoes. So for me, my expectations and hopes make this process kinda fun. But for those who want to remain “youthful”, I can only imagine the pain of aging.
Expectations are everything.
Being a 55 year old man means seeing the writing on the wall, and starting to wonder why you bought wallpaper with writing on it.
If this is the beginning of the downslope of the bell curve of life, then what really has been accomplished? When everything was hitting on all cylinders…did I do the most with it that I could? Now that I have to reach for glasses to see anything, and can’t get as excited for every new thing…it’s obvious that my productivity is waining. Is that Ok? Did I get the groundwork laid for the last trimester of life?
If most of us were honest with ourselves, I feel like we would answer this question in the negative.
Being a middle aged male today is to be the guy played as a fool in every sitcom. The asshole who is totally irrelavant. Every kid and every female in every plot line knows far more than the buffoon middle-aged male/father/neighbor. And maybe that’s an accurate representation. Perhaps we are absurd.
The father is not beloved as the mother in a traditional family environment.
The father isn’t the nurturer.
The father might even be the parent of “conditional love”…and no one wants that.
But being 55 also gives you a certain perspective.
We aren’t the star of the show.
We aren’t the center of attention.
We don’t spend most of the money we earn on ourselves.
We are not the most beautiful flower in the garden.
But instead, we are the soil. The sunlight. The rain. We aren’t “the thing”, but when done properly, the aging man is the environment that makes “the thing” possible.
If you want a lot of praise, this ain’t the life for you. If you can step out of yourself, and see the bigger picture, you might find your comfort and recognition there. If you are strong, you don’t care about how you are treated or portrayed. You can dust off the doubts and fears, and double your efforts to provide a constant. If you need approval, you better get it from yourself.
Being a middle aged man is a loneliness that is either terrifying, or exquisite: and that choice is yours.
I often wonder if the mountain laughs at the scurrying around of the creatures below?
At this point in this article, I showed my progress to my friend who is about the same age. He said, “I love it…but you have more to say. Keep going. I could imagine reading this in a magazine.”
After re-reading, I wasn’t sure I agreed with him. I may have already said everything that I know for sure.
Sure, I could go on and write about the realization at this age that you are more of a work liability than an asset. I could pretend that I feel like that is “unfair”. I could talk about how people my age still have a lot to offer and how all the knowledge we have collected to this point in our careers and journeys through life are priceless. How our wisdom is a valuable asset for any company and society.
Unfortunately, I dont’ believe that is true, and I’d only be mentioning age discrimination to pander to readers my age who might have all the other qualifications I’ve talked about to this point.
Truth is, at this age…we are done. We really aren’t interested in learning anymore. We are so sure that our life experiences are valuable, that we don’t have any room left to really “learn” what is valuable now.
I offer most of Facebook as evidence. No one is really “learning” or “listening”. Everyone is simply trying ot convince everyone else, that what they think they know…is the best that can be known.
Unlikely. If they were actually smart people, they would realize that almost everyone, in history to day, has been mostly wrong, on most decisions. They did the best they could do at the time, but as time passes, and knowledge is gained, thinks like putting leachs on kids who have the humors, begin to be exposed as the dated “best knowledge” that it actually was.
People my age want so much to regurgitate our “wisdom” that we stopped gaining anything truly valuable and applicable to todays world years ago. If employers don’t want to hire us, it’s because we think too highly of our own (actually obsolete) skills and demand more money than they are actually worth. We have no one to blame here but ourselves actually…so this is why I won’t be adding “age discrimination” to this conversation about the creep of age.
If you are my age, ask yourself, and truly answer the following questions:
“In what decade were most of your opinions formed?”
“What are middle schoolers interested in today?”
“What vintage is the bulk of your education?”
If after answering those questions, you still feel like you are relevant and valuable to the future… I give you a lot of respect. I think 90% of people my age, if they answered honestly, would have to admit to the fact that they have been passed by time.
So now you are thinking, “Well that’s depressing.” To which I would reply, “In what way? Did you not just have 30+ years of opportunity? How much opportunity do you think you deserve? How much more important is your opportunity, than the opportunity of the young people entering the job market?”
It’s a time for gratitude. It’s a time for helping new kids up. It’s a time to begin to go away. Let the other folks have a shot.
It’s a time for keeping your big boy panties on, and taking another step further into selflessness.
At 55, they goal is to be strong enough to not be strong. Share what you accumulated unselfishly. Laugh at those who don’t.