I have always thought of age-worry as vanity gone awry, narcissism twisted by irrational emotion. It seemed to me that no one should agonize about reaching 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 or 70. When people fretted about reaching one of those “crucial moments,” I snickered at their silliness. None of those so-called milestones mattered to me; they were just days on the calendar, nothing more.
Until last week. Just over a week ago, I hit 60. Suddenly, I felt old, as if the best years had passed. My body can no longer be what it once was. Nor can it do what it once could. I’d reached the point at which I had to acknowledge I am well beyond the halfway point. I can’t say I enjoyed that acknowledgement.
Reaching 60 is not something to which I ever gave much thought; it’s certainly not something I ever expected to grate on me. It wasn’t a physical thing; my body didn’t “feel” sixty (except for the arthritis that began to express itself in my forties). But reaching my sixth decade was sufficiently surprising to jar me into a sense of discomfort.
I realize how silly it is to feel sullen about this unremarkable event in my life. But once I began to recognize what had just happened, it was hard to shake the feeling that I had just reached a point at which middle age clearly is behind me.
I felt a need for liquor, an orgy, or, perhaps, a motorcycle.
Or maybe I needed something else entirely. Perhaps a dose of reality would do the trick; so, I looked at the matter dispassionately.
Looking at the passage into my sixth decade from this unemotional perspective, it became clear. I had experienced an unexpected and unappreciated reaction to an abstraction that merits no more than a passing thought. Age milestones are nothing more than dates on a calendar. There. My lifelong sense of the silliness of age-worry quickly returned. I wonder what prompted the temporary insanity? What made me look at my birthday as anything with more gravity than an opportunity to justify spending a little more on a meal out than would normally be the case?
Dunno. It was out of character for me to fret about a birthday. Fortunately, even with the brief psychotic episode, I enjoyed my birthday trip to Big Bend.
And now it’s time to get on with the joy of achieving great things after reaching ripeness!