WOSTER: A good old tale about aging and living“Life is worth living, if once in a while, you can look in the looking glass and smile.”
One way to tell if you are obsessing about your age, I suppose, is if your friends begin to tell you so.
That happened to me one afternoon last week. Today is my birthday, you see, and I was using the week leading up to the grand event to reflect on the mysteries of life, the passing of the days, the “September of my Years” of which Sinatra sang so movingly so many, many years ago. I was getting into the whole “man, woman, birth, death, infinity” thing that became familiar as the opening sequence of the old (why are there so many references to old, do you suppose?) television series, “Ben Casey.”
Anyway, I was breaking it down a little, remarking on the fact that after today’s anniversary, I’d only have one more year in the 60s before I turned 70 years old. As I thought about that astonishing fact, it occurred to me that, in fact, I was a year late. If a person is born and lives a full 365 days before turning one year old, why, then a person who celebrates a 69th birthday is really finishing 69 years on the planet and starting year 70. Oh, my word. Viewing it from that perspective, I’m already out of the 60s.
(If my old — why is that word there again? — friend Rich Muller was around at this point, he’d say something snappy, like, “Well, yeah, you’re out of the 60s, except for the flashbacks and stuff.” Total joke, folks. There were no flashbacks, although I am aware that the phenomenon has been linked loosely with certain behavior that popular culture tends to link more than loosely with the decade of the 60s.)
So, as I outlined this line of reasoning, a friend suggested gently that I might be obsessing on age “just the tiniest bit.”
That could be so. I tend to think of myself as ageless, or more properly, as without age. I know how old I am in years, and after several of Howard Elrod’s math, algebra and geometry classes at Chamberlain High School back in the good old (hmmm) days, I don’t need a calculator to figure my age in dog years.
But when I’m not reflecting or obsessing on it, I don’t think of myself as having an age any different from the people around me. I work with folks ranging in age from middle 20s to lower 60s (yes, that’s right, I’m the, ahem, oldest one in the Department of Public Safety building, apparently) but I tend to think of us all as being the same age.
Now, some of us in that same age group can bend and stretch and take the stairs more fluidly than others (no names mentioned) But I rarely think, “Oh, land sakes, that kid is 25 and I’m turning 69.” That must be a positive thing, no?
I suppose my age has begun to show in small ways. During the flood of 2011, each morning as I traveled to the Emergency Operations Center, I played “Trucking” by the Grateful Dead on the pickup’s sound system. Each night as I traveled home from the EOC, I played “Uncle John’s Band,” also by the Dead. Great stuff, really good old (wow) music.
A while back, I had a hankering to play some Bobby Vinton ballads, “Roses Are Red,” “Mr. Lonely,” and other tunes that tempt a body to curl into a fetal position under a quilt and take a long nap. When I told a co-worker what I was playing on the sound system, she suggested I go back to the Grateful Dead, for my sanity’s sake.
More recently, I’ve been dialing in Sinatra, and I have to tell you, that music may be older (I’m good with the term) than I am, but it is incredible stuff. For my birthday, I found “The Man in the Looking Glass,” a song on a vinyl album my roommate had in college.
With Old Blue Eyes’ help, I remembered to have no regrets, because “Life is worth living, if once in a while, you can look in the looking glass and smile.”