Monday, January 30, 2012

39

This past weekend I turned 39. I have one year left of my 30's.

I’m not handling it well.

I’ve never before been bothered by my age or the prospect of getting older. I sailed through the transition from 29 to 30 with ease while some around me seemed to struggle. But recently, the thought of getting older has been infecting my thoughts like some virus from a horror movie. I’m plagued by pictures of me from the recent past that display my darker hair, smaller forehead and a noticeable lack of wrinkles around the eyes. Somehow the younger me appears brighter and more focused.

Of course I am projecting. My reality is not as harsh as it appears to me. At least this is what WonderWife™ tells me, and I’m inclined to believe her since she rarely has anything other than my best interests at heart. But I must admit that it is difficult.

I now understand the compulsion of middle-aged men to buy a flashy new sports car. Something that bright and shiny is meant to make you look cool in a world that doesn’t care if you’re cool. Because the truth is, middle-aged men aren’t cool. Nor should they be.

There are new generations rapidly coming up behind me and I find myself surrounded by a whole lot of people a whole lot younger than me who don’t get my movie references, don’t care about the TV I used to watch and think my music belongs on the oldies station (which, alarmingly it is). It makes me sound ancient to wax poetic about a time before the internet. And while I’m far from yelling at people to get off my lawn, I am no longer a part of the all-important 18-34 demographic that shapes pop culture. As an entertainment junkie, this upsets me.

Again, I know that I’m being dramatic. Life does not end at 40. If my 60-something parents have showed me anything, it’s that there’s a tremendous amount of fun to be wrung out of the latter half of my life. But it can’t be helped that these are the thoughts that bounce around in my brain like super balls as I take my kids to school. These are the seeds of the so-called midlife crisis.

But I’m not going out and getting that sports car, even if I could afford it. I’m not trading in my wife for a younger, dumber model. I will continue to live in my modest house and enjoy my roles as a husband and a father, Because those are good things to be and I do enjoy being them. I will continue to diligently try to carve out my place in this world. I will continue to use my Rogaine, in a misguided effort to stave off inevitable baldness. I will continue to get older, whether I like it or not. And eventually, after a brief period of neurotic gestation followed by some soul searching, I will be okay with it.

But today, I’m struggling just a bit.

7 comments:

Your escalator operator said...

Happy birthday! I'm a year and a few months ahead of you, so I can tell you from experience... no problem staying cool despite what the calendar says! Besides, all the things you're interested in (including awesome snack foods) will always keep you young. ;)
And, as a wise man once told me about getting older: It's better than the alternative!
Hope you managed to enjoy #39 in spite of it all!

Daddy Geek Boy said...

YEO...Thank you. I am rational enough to know that this will pass. However, I have to disagree that my love of snack foods will not keep me young. They are probably doing more to age me than anything else I do.

Phil said...

40 here. I've gone through a bit of self-reflection and a lot of mid-life crisis and feel like I came out of the other side fairly intact (and sans-sports car). One thing to keep in mind is that seniors and "old" people are still their own generation. It will be up to us to define what we are like at any age. That means liking whatever music we want and never having to wear fishing t-shirts and chest-high pants if we choose not to. Most of all it is about accepting whatever comes with age as badges of accomplishment and wisdom.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Phil...Thank you.

tysdaddy said...

I remember 39. I turn 44 this year, but not until November, so I have some time left to marinate in 43.

The thing that gets me about this age is best summed up by comedian Louis C. K. He did a bit once about how when you get to be this age, people just don't care about you much anymore. We are just supposed to do our job and take the hits - to our wallets, our hairline, our health - and roll with them. We are not young enough to warrant any attention from mentors, and not old enough to get sympathetic and compassionate hands at our elbows. We just are.

And I too am learning to be cool with that.

Happy birthday, my friend . . .

OneZenMom said...

I coasted into and through most of my 30s without any of the "struggles" I suppose I expected to have with "getting older". (I'll be 38 next month.) But, I have to admit,there's a bit of an uncomfortable rushing sound in my ears as I think about the ever more rapidly approaching 40.

Logically, I know I'm in good health and great place in my life and there's no scary dividing line between 39 and 40 that suddenly makes me old or irrelevant ... but, there's still something about 40 that makes me want to hide my palm crystal and insist that it couldn't possibly be red yet.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Tys...I know the routine. And that's just the thing...I don't want to just lie down and take the hits. I don't want to face my inevitable irrelevantlessness. I am not yet ready to be cool with it. (Maybe I'll get there. Dunno.)

Zen...Perfect reference!