Jousting with Middle Age

David Writes

What is middle aged? I suppose we are implying the middle of our lifespan. So let’s say eighty years. That makes forty, give or take a few years, middle aged.

Ninety is certainly a possibility, so, forty-five. Some of us might even live to be 100, so I can even go as high as fifty.

After that it gets a little curious. Fifty-five? Well, people have lived to 110, so let’s call the late fifties the absolute top side of middle age.

If someone sixty-plus is going around claiming to be middle aged, basically they are declaring that they intend to live to be the oldest human ever in the history of the world. I’m not buying it.

The fact is that only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or older, so we’ve got to draw the line somewhere.

Personally, I have absolutely no desire to live past 100. No thanks, that’s just more time than I need. But wait — I could get Willard Scott to announce my birthday on the Today Show. Of course ol’ Willie would be 257 by then, so… it might be worth it just to see that.

Perhaps I’m looking at this the wrong way. Maybe middle age isn’t so much about chronology, but more about functionality. Like the way a car’s age is more about mileage than model year.

One thing’s for sure, I rolled my odometer over a long time ago. My vision started going at twenty-nine and shows no signs of magically returning to the eagle-eyed sharpness of my youth. A dozen new lenses later, I’m about half blind now, so… middle age.

I’m certainly at least half deaf. The predictable outcome from decades of playing in some pretty loud bands. I have several drummers to personally thank. Nothing like a few good cymbal crashes right at ear level to take the edge off of that pesky ability to hear. What did you say?

I am also ridiculously forgetful, but I always have been. So either I was senile at eighteen or it’s just the way I am. I’m not talking about not being able to find my keys — I literally drive along the freeway, miles past my exit, and come to my senses wondering What in the world am I doing here?

I have shown up at concerts without my guitar, not just once or twice, many times. I pick up cell phones and listen for a dial tone… every time. I pay for gas but don’t remember to put it in the tank. Do me a favor, next time a car goes by with a coffee cup, laptop, book or a bag of groceries on the roof, give me a little wave.

I’m going to make the smoothest transition into dementia ever, I won’t even notice it. It’s all a matter of getting the supply of brain cells down to a manageable number.

So I guess the middle means half of the expected life of our bodily functions. The warranty must be running out on a bunch of my parts. When they’re halfway worn out, then that must be middle age. Because when they’re all the way spent, well… bucket, meet foot.

Still, I can’t decide if I feel old or young. Maybe THAT’s what middle age is all about. There are times I think, I don’t feel much different than I did thirty years ago. Other times I think I might keel over any minute. Depends on the day — or even more so — the time of day.

Mornings? I’m not exactly springing up like Jack from his box these days. Snap, Crackle, Pop — I sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies getting out of bed. But I figure if I wake up looking no worse than my driver’s license picture I’m off to a pretty good start. No worries, it’s nothing a gallon or two of strong coffee can’t bring around.

Afternoons? They’re usually OK, as long as the weather isn’t doing something squirrelly. Several of those cereal-sounding joints can put the National Weather Service to shame. I wonder why they don’t just call me for the forecast, because I am regularly kicking their butts in the accuracy department. Of course they’d have to catch me before I get into some of Granny Clampett’s rheumatiz medicine.

Speaking of hooch, evenings can be pretty groovy after a couple cold fellahs. Of course timing is important, because it’s pretty easy for happy hour to turn into nap time. Then I’d have to go back to square one and the driver’s license photo test and, well, might as well just stay in bed. It’s terribly grueling.

Bottom line? It’s getting to the point where it’s hard for me to claim to be middle aged anymore. I don’t buy this fifty-is-the-new forty horse hockey — the old dirt nap is the new big sleep.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’ve got one foot in the grave, that would certainly not be middle aged. I guess that would be old age. That’s a whole ‘nother discussion, and I’m not ready for that.

I haven’t even made it to the point where I can start bragging about my age yet.


YOUR TURN: You’ve heard what I have to say. What do you think? Are you celebrating any of these same issues?

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43 thoughts on “Jousting with Middle Age”

  1. I guess whatever definition is in play here, I’m elderly, but my mind won’t believe it no matter what my knees try to tell it. I’m shocked when friends a few years younger whom I haven’t seen in 40 years have gray hair. How did that happen? How is it that the third graders I taught in Sunday school forty years ago now have children of their own in high school? The truth is that only the most decrepit among us will ever feel old in our minds, and we may still deny our age even as our bodies start falling apart.

  2. There’s a point where you just have to abandon the illusion that you don’t qualify as “old,” no matter how young you tell yourself you feel. “Middle-aged” people aren’t on Medicare, for example. 60 is the new 50? Boomer talk for “we are special, hear us roar.” Nothing wrong with that, btw. Positive thinking counts. But when you hit 70, it slaps you in the face like you’ve never been slapped before. You are indisputably old. Then again, maybe 70 is the new 60 and you’re still middle-aged.

  3. I find myself complaining about “old people” in the supermarket and having to remind myself that I am probably the same age as they are. Freaks me out every time! I expected to “feel” old but I still feel like I did when I was in my 20’s. Only my body doesn’t always know that! LOL!

  4. I read this somewhere on FB. “Grey hair is wisdom highlights”. OTOH, I was enjoying this post immensely until I scrolled through the comments and saw that I commented before (Just One Boomer). One benefit of aging is that I can reread books (and apparently, blog posts) and resee movies because I have no independent recollection of having read or seen them before.

  5. This is so hilarious. I read this while my 16 year old stood behind me wondering why I was laughing so hard! I, too, find myself oblivious to the fact that I’m “one of those older people…” Until I try to do something they’re doing…

  6. Great post. I think age is all in the mind. Yes one must respect it in terms of not overdoing physical activity, I think this is the period that one can best enjoy everything as we have completed our family responsibilites and are reasonably free of worries. People of this generation have a special advantage as they have seen both the so-called ‘slow’ life and the busy internet driven technology heavy modern life. The best of both worlds.

  7. David: That’s pretty funny, but so true. But, I have to say, I do find myself more forgetful that in earlier years. I also agree in happy hour turning into nap time. That’s just too funny. Although that has always been that way for me, since I’ve always suffered from a blood sugar thing. So, I’ll just leave it at that, since I do not want to divulge if I’ve half of 100 or 120. Great post.

  8. We’re presently in a cruise in Hawaii. After our first day, my husband observed that there were a lot of old people among our fellow passengers. I pointed out that they were basically our age. I do feel creaky sometimes, but I try to compensate for the memory issues with hard earned wisdom–not always successfully.

  9. To me, middle-aged is more about your behavior than how many years you’ve been on the planet.

    Of course, I’m saying this because I’m getting closer to 50 than to 40 with each passing day. 🙂

  10. Great blog! It did, however, make me realize that I am definitly middle aged. (not nice)lol. Actually, I think I became middle aged at the age of ten; an old soul, if you will. I started getting gray hair at 19. Gravity started playing some nasty tricks around the age of 25 and it all went downhill from there. Cerebral function? Definitely diminished.I don’t understand what happened. I knew everything when I was 16. Now, I don’t know anything. That memory thing? I am adamantly convinced that it has less to do with aging, and more to do with having children, whom I am sure, will obligingly take me out behind the barn once I age out of the system.

  11. As a physician I group patients into young (<40), middle aged (40-70), and elderly (70+). People who take care of themselves and have good genes (choose your parents wisely!) will often stay very active through their 60's and beyond. In those people the transition to "elderly" is not so much a number as it is the consequence of a health event or a change in how they see the world. A sense of humor definitely helps forestall the transition.

  12. I think this is so funny.I still think that some of my aches will pass and 3 years later they are still there, so maybe it is middle age. Assuming we can live to be 110 I am middle aged!

  13. Really enjoyed your blog column today. I’m 62 and having lots of trouble with different things. Makes me so mad ‘cuz mentally I feel like 40, physically the body says “It ain’t so, baby!” Thanks for following me on Twitter. I have a travel blog in case you are interested. We’ve been full timing for almost three years.

  14. yep – 50 is the new 40! my favourite age was 35, I had my 3rd child 12 days before my 35th! he was born 1 month early! xx

  15. Oh my gosh, I’m 41 and the signs are kicking in. I find myself thinking I’d better go to the difficult places to travel before I get too old to enjoy them (because I can’t walk around or climb well enough anymore). My eye sight is on the downward spiral. The crow’s feet are…well, let’s just not talk about the Crow’s Feet…

    Excellent post. 🙂 I’ll wave to you to let you know your coffee is on top of your car, if you wave to me to let me know my sunglasses are up there…yet again.

  16. I’m 56 and “Middle Age” hadn’t really sunk in, until last month when I was hospitalized for the first time with Middle Age Chronic (ruptured) Appendicitis. Which incidentally, nearly killed me! I’ve been a registered nurse for more then 30 yrs but, the needles were turned the OTHER way on me, last month as I had 6 hrs of surgery and 5 days in … See Moreintensive care, and a 2 week hospital stay. Can’t say it was fun, but, life is SOOOO much better having come out on the other side, ALIVE! So, I feel welcomed to Middle Age! Keep it coming!

  17. I will tell you when I hit it. Only kidding I turn 45 next week and I feel like middle age is great because now I know better….

  18. Haha! AWESOME post…interestingly, you just gave a perfect example of why Fifty Is The New Fortyis a phrase trend…it’s all about a younger attitude, and you definitely have it in spades! 🙂

  19. Ditto on the smooth transition. That’s going to be my new favorite line.
    As for when middle age begins, you know what the MAD (Middle Age’D) Goddess says . . . it’s not about reaching a certain age, it’s about reaching an age of certainty. I, for one, know that my 52 years is certainly beyond middle age! LOL

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