Saturday, April 4, 2020

I Hope I Die Before I Get Old

With apologies to Pete Townshend

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.
Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and/or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering

                               -Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay-



Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old." -George Burns

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

I'm going to turn 39 for the 28th time this summer and I do hope I die before I get old. Of course, getting old means quite different things to different people.

For reasons having nothing to do with logic, I've long felt that once I turned 67 it would be time to have a belated midlife crisis, not having had one, and it would also be time to get serious about my bucket list (I don't have one of those either).

When I turned 65, a birthday that many H. sapiens regard as the first year of geezerhood, it didn't have much of an effect on my psyche.

Neither did 66. Why 67?

To me at least, 67 means I'm officially pushing 70, and I've long thought of 70 as officially being old. However, the rapid approach of 67 got me to thinking and I no longer fear 67, or even 70 for that matter.

See, I've realized...

[Let me guess, it's some pathetic variation of, "After all, age is just a number, you're only as young as you feel. Yadda-yadda-yadda."]

No, Dana, that's not it. I don't feel young and I don't want to. I just don't want to get old.

Note to those of you that, for all intents and purposes, are still young enough to think you're going to live forever: me, and many of my fellow sexy seasoned citizens often refer to ourselves as old, usually while trying to be charmingly self-deprecating. 

Sometimes it's because some health problem is irritating us. Mostly, it's because we're subtly manipulating you in some way. Even knowing this, you may not be able to resist the efforts of those of us who have mastered this particular gambit.

Shhh... Don't tell anyone. 

My body's getting old but I'm not complaining; I'm grateful to still be among the vertical and relatively mobile. My dad didn't quite make it to 60 and my mum didn't quite make it to 65.

But considering they both had decades-long intense, extramarital relationships — he smoked unfiltered Camels, she unfiltered Kools — that's not exactly shocking.

I have a vivid, early childhood memory of being tucked in, my bedside lamp being turned off, and then watching a tiny, bright red ball floating across the room that disappeared when my bedroom door was closed.

Also, he believed that a shot of whiskey and a nap would cure most things, she thought that aspirin and a nap was the way to go.

"Walk it off, son, you'll be fine."

[Whatever. Pray tell your garrulousness, when do you think you'll be old and why do you wish to be deleted before that happens?]

It's very complicated.

There's no way to predict when it will happen and lots of H. sapiens live on for decades after they get old without even noticing that it happened. I don't want to die, but as far as I'm concerned — that's the same thing.

It's getting old and not realizing that I got old, becoming in effect, a zombie, that I would avoid, that scares the hell out of me. Particularly since, unless one falls prey to some sort of dementia or some other equally awful physical malady, it's easily avoidable.

[I'm completely confused. I don't...]

Perhaps you're getting old. Sorry, couldn't resist, my bad. Clearly, I need to define my terms.

With the possible, but I suspect unlikely exception of those H. sapiens that hope to upload/download/whateverload themselves to a computer/robot/brain floating in a modified water cooler jug — Kurzweil's singularity — we're all going to die.

-Wikipedia-public domain-

At some point, before being deleted, you're going to look in the mirror and have to concede that your body has crossed a certain line and that the oft-mentioned "lines and wrinkles" are winning, that a holding action is the best you can hope for.

This is mere biology, inevitable, and all that you can do is all that you can do. In fact, this can be a liberating experience. One less thing to obsess about. Invoke an appropriate cliche, I like it is what it is and then make a decision. Now what?

May I suggest, assuming you haven't already become a zombie, that you take this opportunity to remember to not get old.

That ultimately undefinable spark of transcendence that is you — which includes your body, a body that should still be taken care of, appreciated, and enjoyed (if still possible) — does not have to get old.

It's really just that simple.

[Simple huh? And just how does one go about...]

As I've written previously but don't feel like looking up exactly where and when...

"Someone to love that loves you back (a dog will do) and interesting work is the secret of (occasional) happiness." -me

To which I would add, "And not getting old." 

To which I would also add that your work is probably not what you do for a living unless you're unbelievably blessed. 

Your work is that thing that keeps you getting you out of bed in the morning in spite of _______. And don't even get me started about _______. 

Collecting football cards, amateur brain surgery, or something in between   whatever works. For me, it's primarily my family and writing this column (believe it or not) and a few other things of lesser importance.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Please scroll down to react, comment, or share. If my work pleases you I wouldn't be offended if you offered to buy me some cheap coffee.  

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Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. 

Cranky don't tweet.

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