Friday, June 27, 2008

Forty Five

They say you are only as old as you feel, and I do feel older these days as the joints creak a little more and the legs seem stiffer after sitting for a long period of time. But I still have a hard time thinking of myself as forty five. There seems to be this ideal age in my mind that exists somewhere back between 25 and 35 and that’s where I assume I live. One betrayer that reminds me I’m not that young is old photos. I have never thought of myself as skinny, but who was that thin kid in those pictures from 25 years ago? But this isn’t a moaning session. It struck me a few days ago as I watch younger kids at the mall why I’m glad I’m not walking in their shoes any longer. I’m not sure who to accurately cite on this quotation, but some noted woman once said she would rather have her 50 year old mind than your 21 year old body. And today I concur with that. Age allows a certain surrender and acceptance of reality that is no longer elusive; it is downright impossible. I realized 15 years ago that I didn’t need hair to feel good about myself, and since my genes were helping me out with that discovery, I gave in and shaved it all off. The time saved, the ease of getting ready in the morning, the twenty bucks spent on the trimmer I still use, I’d say that was a pretty good trade. I have to admit that the transition was made easier once I saw that I have a BlueMan quality melon, and seeing Andre Agassi showing up at Wimbledon with a buzz cut. I don’t need tanned skin any longer, which is a good thing since I go straight from pale to red in a high humidity. In my twenties I tried bucking the system and tried out a tanning bed at the YMCA I worked at. I think I still see the damage from that foolish stunt. I don’t need a six-pack, like so many advertisers tell me. I have one hidden behind the twenty extra pounds I carry. Since I know its there, why do I need to show it off to you? That wouldn’t be prudent. No, what I have found as I get older is that I need less that is physical and more that is immaterial. As the body digresses, the aging process aids me in this realization. All the years I spent worrying about how I looked were lost to being concerned with how I lived and how well I loved others. Accepting the inevitability of this physical decline can make way for a whole new outlook on life and a freedom to enjoy it. I’m starting to see more why my dad could tell me, “Son, these are my best days.” Even while oxygen assisted his breathing and even though his body was soon to resign from its duties, he had calmness in his spirit and contentment in his demeanor. He knew what was really important. All else was superfluous.

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