A little more than a decade ago, I cracked a joke in front of an older co-worker that poked fun at his age.
It was just one of those innocuous little jokes — so pitiful and small in nature that I don’t even remember it today — but his reaction is something I’ve never forgotten. It turned into a yelling and screaming match that — if one person had stepped forward in the discussion — would have turned into fisticuffs.
And I liked this guy. I really did. A good guy. Good journalist.
He was just at the age where talking about his age set him off. Well, that’s kind of weak … it ignited him, at least his anger toward getting old.
Over the past few years, I kind know of where this former co-worker is coming from.
I’m not aging gracefully, though at least I don’t think I’m aging angrily, either.
Today, I write this on my 50th birthday.
And it doesn’t seem possible.
I was born in 1966, so while I’m a literal child of the 1960s, I’m more of a product of the 1970s and 80s.
I graduated from high school in 1984, starting my professional career as a journalist before I even set foot in a college classroom. I got lucky in that sense, but I think I made the best of my break.
The year 2000 came and went and I was still young — 34, to be exact . Even though I had survived through all of life’s curve balls (divorce, job loss, near homelessness, a wee bit of drug and alcohol abuse) I was still young with my whole life ahead of me.
So I felt. And so I thought.
I used to joke that when I was in my 30s, it felt like I was in my 20s. Once I hit my 40s, suddenly it felt like I was in my 50s.
Now, I AM 50 and I don’t know what to feel.
I feel old in body — but part of that might be the fact I’m out of shape and carrying around a carcass that has been beat up from a few too many years of living a few too many wild nights.
I feel weighted down in mind — part of the struggle of getting used to the idea of getting old, coupled with an ever-changing professional world that may or may not last until retirement.
I feel in lost in spirit.
Perhaps that is the biggest problem of them all.
If I live to be 75, my life is two-thirds over. It doesn’t seem like a very long time.
If I look back the same length of time, then I was 25 — and while it doesn’t seem a very long time ago — in a way it was. In some ways it was forever ago and that 25 year old guy I once was is gone forever.
How different will I be when I’m 75?
Aw, hell, I doubt I’ll make it that far — though both my parents are pushing 80, and with modern science being what it is, who knows?
I’m 50 and I hate it, but what choice do I have but to accept it? Fifty came and it will go. Just like 51 is coming, so too is 52 and 53.
So, yeah, I hate birthdays — at least my own.
Thankfully, there is only one a year. I just wish those years would stop going by so fast.