"Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it don't matter." -- Satchel Paige.
Generally, I think Satchel Paige was right about this one with only a couple of exceptions. I've never been one to get upset about birthdays. The only times that I have, it hasn't been about the age I was. It was about something that was missing from my life that I thought I should have had by the time I was that age. And this year is no exception.
The first time I really noticed the creeping of age was when I turned 25. There was just something slightly unnerving about being a quarter of a century old. But it didn't really faze me much.
The year I turned 30 was when I first noticed that any concern I had about age was linked to unmet dreams and needs. Leading up to the day, I had absolutely no qualms about turning 30. Then 3 days before my birthday, we got a letter from a friend that mentioned her younger sister was graduating from college that spring. Crash! I was going to be 30 with no college degree and I indulged in a bit of a pity party. It was the lack of a degree rather than the age that got to me.
Forty didn't faze me at all. I was in a new certificate program, having finished my degree 4 years earlier. I was working with like-minded people and getting ready to begin an entirely new chapter in my life. I think that 40 was the most liberating birthday I have had yet.
But this year, I am again noticing things and experiences that are missing from my life that I had hoped would be there by now. And I know that, before too many more birthdays pass, I will have to give up entirely on some of them. I don't like that fact, but they aren't entirely in my power to bring into my life. However, I think that I'll let myself continue to hope for a while longer.
Satchel got it wrong if he meant to say that age never matters. There are some cases where it does. Our society elevates youth and totally dismisses age. Ask any 50-something person what they think their prospects are if they are laid off from a job. Most folks will agree that they are slim to none.
And more than a few times in my life, I have seen very old people addressed in tones more appropriate for use with children. There is more than a suggestion that older people, meaning older than the person with the opinion, can't possibly know anything due to being old and, therefore, out of touch. I first experienced this when I was the ripe old age of 35. I'd finally returned to college to finish my degree and almost all of my classmates were in their early 20s. In a philosophy class, there was young fellow who was clearly of the opinion that I was too old to know anything at all. He would take contrary positions to everything I said and resort to put downs when logic wouldn't carry his argument forward. I was befuddled by this so I talked with the professor. He told me that I wasn't imagining it, it was real, and that I should watch how the brat talked to him as well. Apparently, the tyke had serious problems with older people, no matter how little or how much older they were. I expect that that sort of thing will increase as my age does. And I am absolutely certain that it will make me angry and I'll put a few people in their places.
An interesting thing that I've noticed about the whole age thing is that the number doesn't mean much as far as the individual is concerned. I've known people in their 20s who are "old" - and not in a good way. I've also known people in their 70s who could give people 30 years their junior a run for the money. As for myself, I have absolutely no idea what 49 is supposed to feel like. Internally, deep down in my self-identity, I don't feel significantly different than I did in my late 20s. I have no clue at all what "to act one's age" means and I don't think I want to find out. If it means to rein myself in from things I want to do simply because of the number of birthdays I've had, then I want nothing to do with it.
This year I'm determined not to focus too much on what has not come to me. I plan to continue as I have been with necessary course corrections and continue to hope. Beats the heck out of the alternative.
Dear Writer: Three reasons people try to make you feel lousy about your writing. - It’s hard to fathom. But the moment you finally release your book or song or dance or sculpture or even a child into the world, you’ll hear that you did it...
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