I remember going through my own aging issue, a kind of mid-life crisis, when I was 28 years old. Yes, 28.
At the time, I recall thinking that I was almost 30 -- and 30 was, oh god, 30 was middle age. I was married, had a job, had just bought a house. My life path was set. No more surprises. I might as well lie down and die.
Of course, now with the wisdom of age, I can see that I was being ridiculous. My life was just beginning -- I went back to graduate school, had a couple of kids, watched them grow up and go to college, bought and sold a couple of houses; got divorced; got downsized; found a new life partner; bought and sold another house. And life goes on.
But as I now look around at all the other people in my life, and those I meet in town or while traveling, I notice people with little kids, and guys going off to work, and I see the people making news on TV or in the newspaper. And I realize ... I am older than all those people.
I'm one of the gray hairs who goes to the movies at 5 p.m. -- with all the other gray hairs -- because I don't want to stay out too late. I'm one of the people interested in Social Security, not as some theoretical benefit far-off into the future, but in the here and now. When I travel to Florida, I realize that I'm not one of those people going to see their parents. I am one of the parents.
They say that 50 is the new 40. Well, that's irrelevant for me. I'm long past 40, long past 50.
So when does old age start anyway? At 55 when places like movie theaters and public parks start giving you senior-citizen discounts? At 59 1/2, when the government lets you withdraw funds from your IRA without a penalty? Or at age 62, when you can start taking Social Security? Or 65 when you get Medicare? Or 66, which is now considered normal retirement age?
Or, maybe it doesn't start until you go into an Independent Living facility, at age 80 or 85.
Walking around everyday, I sure don't feel like I'm old. And, remember, they say you're only as old as you feel.
|Anthony Hopkins will play Methuselah in the upcoming film Noah|
Then there are the moments when the knee acts up; or my ankle hurts; or the back begins to bother me. Or I can't stay up late to watch the Olympics; and we're the first to leave the party, at 10 p.m., because it's getting to be our bedtime. Or . . . we just don't want to go at all, because it's a half-hour drive, and who wants to be driving home in the dark anyway?
The term "old" is a vague concept, I guess. Some people are old when their 50; others are still vibrant when they're 70. Depends on your health, your attitude, your interests and activities. When did old age start for Methuselah, who supposedly lived to age 960 or thereabouts?
Maybe there are stages in getting old -- perhaps the same stages people go through in facing death. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. As for me, I'm in the denial stage. Well . . . maybe the bargaining stage, because every once in a while I find myself trying to make a deal -- okay, I can handle the toothache, as long as this pain in my side isn't a tumor.
But here's what I've finally figured out. My kids constantly joke around about how old I am. How I should count my age in Roman numerals. How I know so much about the Civil War because I was personal friends with Abe Lincoln. How I blog about . . . retirement.
That's okay. They've been making these jokes ever since they started to talk. The time to worry, I've decided, is when they stop making jokes about me being old, because they know it cuts too close to the bone.
That's when I'll know I'm really old.