Now Am I Old?

This year I turned 50. 50! No matter how you slice it, 50 is old. When I was a kid, 50 years ago was stuff in my history books. I met people when I was little that were alive during the American Civil War. People died in their 50’s all the time. 50 year old men wore suits and worked in offices and were on the news doing important things. Am I supposed to be one of those guys now?

I still find it strange that the way 60–70 year old people dressed when I was a kid is exactly how they dress now… but today’s 60–70 year old people were hip 20–30 year old people when I was a kid. They drank Pepsi, tossed Frisbee, listened to rock-n-roll and were crazy! Now they all dress, look, and act like the people they made fun of 40 years ago.

In elementary school I wore jeans, black t-shirt and sneakers… Same for my high school years, college, and today at 50 I sit and write this ramble wearing sneakers, jeans (performance fabric jeans) and a black t-shirt. I had a crazy hair do when I was young, but it all fell out so now I have a crazy beard. Sure, along the road to 50 I was preppy, punk, goth, hipster, ironic, office worker, executive, dad and a bunch of other tweaks to my style, but mostly jeans, black t-shirt and sneakers.

But what I wear is just an outer wrapper. Inside, my brain is constantly racing with all the responsibilities of my current station in life. My brain is clouded with responsibilities of work, marriage, kids, diet, my music, my art, the future, the past, the possibilities, and potential problems. For every choice in my life, my mind races down multiple paths of potential realities and the possible out-comes of the choice. I’m surprised that I ever make any choice at all. I guess it’s the fact that I have had so many experiences over these 50 years, that I can see so many options and make decisions quickly.

This brings me to my point. Every thing I do and say I draw on my past experiences. And those past experiences never leave us, but our brains have filters to only pull up what we need at that moment. Breaking down those filters is where the fun can come in. When my teen-age boy makes a fart joke, I laugh… I laugh because I have been a teen-age boy and if I break down those filters I can remember and experience life as a teen-age boy. Same goes for singing silly made up songs with my 3-year old. I loved the innocence of that age and if I try, I can be a silly 3-year old.

I have been young, and I don’t believe we change as we get older, I believe we grow new layers… like an onion or rings like a tree. At our core we are infants absorbing the world and if we are lucky we can still access this. When my children are scared, I often think “suck it up, you’ll get through it” then I realize I only know this because I got through it, they haven’t been where I’ve been. A child can not experience the world as an adult because they have never been an adult. But I have been a child and I can bring myself back to that place and be that child. Bratty, needy, loving, accepting, and full of wonder.

I just wish I could switch out this 50 year old shell.

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