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Point of View: Getting Old is Not for Sissies (Like Me)

Very old woman hands

OK, so those are NOT my hands.

But sometimes it feels like it. I’ve been confronted with the specter of getting older lately in a number of unsettling ways.

The first time it happened was at the dentist, two years ago. They took my blood pressure, which turned out to be abnormally high – to the extent that the dentist didn’t feel comfortable working on me. But it wasn’t my BP. Not exactly. It was the way I was suddenly transformed – in their eyes – into a frail old man who needed help to limp my weak and failing body to a chair in the lobby.

It also came to mind when a young friend of ours – I’ll call her Mallison to protect her identity – started giving us these strange cocked-head glances whenever we mentioned pop culture references that everyone knows. Or that everyone used to know. And she thinks we’re funny for using cash, too, because no one does that anymore.

I was speaking with my father the other day, and he mentioned something his mother once told him, a couple years before her passing. The older you get, the more alone you feel, because you start to lose all of those around you who had the same life experiences. At seventy-eight, he’s starting to experience this, and even at my own no-longer-tender age of fifty-six, I’ve lost a number of friends – four of them in the last year alone.

Age is a one-way train. You can look back at the many wonderful (and some tragic) stops you made along the way, but you can never truly revisit them.

Or as Anna Nalick says in Breathe, one of my favorite songs:

‘Cause you can’t jump the track,
we’re like cars on a cable
And life’s like an hourglass glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button, girl
So cradle your head in your hands
And breathe, just breathe

While many of my friends tell me I’m not old yet – and thank you for that – I’m not young anymore, either. I’ve lost some of that spring in my step, and I no longer have my finger on the pulse of whatever the latest cool thing is.

But I do have tons of experience. I’ve lived fifty-five summers, I’ve worked at a million different jobs (only a slight exaggeration), most of them related to publishing. And I’ve had the chance to learn who I truly am and to become comfortable in my own skin.

That all must count for something.

So the next time someone looks at me like I’m old, or makes a snarky comment (I am NOT a Boomer. That’s my parents’ generation), I’ll resist the desire to order the young hooligans off my lawn, and simply say:

“You’ll be lucky if you make it to my age, meet so many great people, and learn all the things I know.”

In the meantime, just breathe.

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