You get the feeling that something interesting is going on, but you’re not sure of what it is. You take refuge in nostalgia. You cease to comprehend certain new trends. You can wait for the next version; chances are it’ll be better. Everything seems like a watered-down version of stuff you heard, saw, experienced at an earlier stage in your life.
Obviously, this isn’t true across the board. If you’re not participating in the world around you, you might as well already be dead. But even the most engaged among us seem to have some difficulty making the transition to middle age. It’s frankly difficult to say those words out loud as applied to oneself: middle age. How can such a thing happen to me?
It’s not all bad. Frankly, I’ve felt old since I can remember (while acting incredibly immature the whole time). At 38, it’s not so much about giving in to my curmudgeonly tendencies, it’s understanding that it’s essentially out of my hands.
A few years back, when I wasn’t even as old as I am now, I overheard a considerably younger coworker describing a party she was throwing that evening. “Why didn’t you invite me?” I jokingly asked.
“Well, first of all, what’s the likelihood you’d even show up?” (A fair point).
I replied that one never knows.
“I just didn’t think you’d enjoy hanging around a bunch of 23 year-olds,” she sighed with exaggerated solicitude.
Of course I wouldn’t. But that’s not the point. It’s just that, until that moment, I thought that the choice of whether or not to socialize was purely under my discretion. (I should probably be thankful that these decisions are now being made for me.)
There also comes a point where you stop aggressively trying to stay on top of trends. For me, this is new music. I could probably devote the rest of my life to listening to and researching all the music made in previous eras and be wholly satisfied. That was the case in my 20s, too — it’s just that peer pressure made me feel like I needed to stay involved in what was happening at that moment.
Live music is great, but I was never much for going to shows. (I could write a separate essay about why.) So it’s nice to have the official excuse of “being old.” I’d like to think I can reverse this trend, because there truly are aspects to hearing music performed that are otherwise impossible to replicate. But who am I kidding? Get your concert on the Palladia channel at 3AM. I’ll check your shit out.
One thing about getting old that’s not true for me is getting up earlier. I still can’t stand being awake before 9AM. There’s something about mornings that seem designed to elicit maximum irritation. (This could have something to do with the fact that I’m watching Palladia at 3AM.)
On the other hand, I find myself somewhat more forgiving of other people’s youthful foibles and idealism. I said somewhat. There are several moments every day where I react to the contrary. I’m just getting better at quietly fuming as opposed to taking heads.
Everybody gets uglier. It’s a stone cold fact.
There’s the possibility that I’m becoming more forgetful, but I’m something of an unreliable witness here, and not just because I can’t remember shit — I’ve always been scatterbrained. Maybe I should start playing Sudoku. (Full disclosure: I don’t really know what that is.)
And there’s still more to look forward to. Aging is supposedly accompanied by a sense of liberation based on the fact that you no longer have to care as much about dumb things. Given that I care almost exclusively about dumb things, my freedom should be pretty epic.
The bottom line is that aging is weird. But I don’t altogether hate it. Can I retire now?