Flirting with Forty… Fifty… Sixty
Does age have a number? In the strictest sense, of course, but in a real sense it is a construct of society. We men have placed a value to the hours, days and weeks by which we mark our time. In a human sense it is nothing more than the changes that occur both biologically and emotionally to each of us as we walk through our lives.
The molding of our bodies and faces changes over time. This indicator is the outright manifestation, yes. If time is meant to provide a learning ground—a stage on which to gain wisdom, then why do we fight the physical signs of the passage of such? If our growth as human beings is contingent upon experience, then shouldn’t wrinkles and lines be sexy?
Ah, you say. Smooth as porcelain skin is true beauty. A finely toned body and mind set strong against a backdrop of timeless nature—that’s desirability.
Can you really have it both ways?
There is someone I love who is turning forty in a few day. He’s in an industry that is very unforgiving of age. (Aren’t we all?) He wonders how many more years it will be before he is viewed as a has-been washed up by the manifestations of the passage of time.
To him and all the others that have that twinge of regret gnawing at the back of their minds— another year closer to that line—the one that separates the desired from the old—I say reflect. Not on the increasing difficulty in maintaining youth. Even if each year does take more work to keep a trim waistline and spring in one’s step, it is a challenge well worth the effort because it allows you to…
Reflect upon the places and people your time has allowed you to meet, learn about and appreciate. It is the rare individual that is capable of giving back legacy until he has been steeped in challenge, sorrow and joy. There is nothing guaranteed but change. It is in this fact that there is hope and joy. Leave to youth the window dressing. It is those of us who have seen the passage of one generation to the next that have the internal resources to deal with anything life throws at us. We are the glue that holds the world of human concerns together. We are also the lens through which the richness and diversity of the world can be viewed. We have the scars. If they have healed in a way to make us stronger, if we have chosen the path of growth and maturity, then we are the individuals upon which lies the mantel of the future. To us, those who come after look for the meaning of life. Even if we have not got the answer to that question as of yet, it is the way we walk that shows the youth how it is supposed to look.
I can’t count the number of forty year olds that look thirty—at least the world’s definition of thirty from generations past. Now that people live into their nineties and past the century mark with increasing frequency middle age does not commence in a biological sense until fifty for many. It is in the paradigm through which we view the world that our true age is measured. These middle years are those in which we are blessed to have the physical dynamism to meet any challenge and the experience to do it well. We are the frame upon which future generations shall build. We are the here and now—what mankind has produced, nurtured and grown representative of the best the planet has to offer. We are the decision makers, the teachers, and the creators of what it is to be human. We have at our fingertips more information than any past generation could ever have dreamed and yet we focus on the plasticity of youth with inordinate fervor.
It is with great wit and character that we of an age press onward. The creases at the corner of our eyes reflects not just time, but the number of times we have smiled and cried, squinted into the brightness of a new day and strained to make sense of situations that seem beyond explanation.
This is the time. This is the place to make our mark on the world. We are not just the actors, but have grown into the maturity of being producers/directors of the future. All those years spent looking to those more knowledgeable and experienced than we are behind and we are the strength upon which the future is built.
And there is nothing sexier than that.