I’ve reluctantly accepted getting old, but it’s more out of a common-sense realization that I have no real alternative than truly embracing the concept. Plus, you are only as old as you think you are, right? And I’ve generally adopted the theory that I refuse to get older.
Nevertheless, I have gradually conceded a few things along the way. I no longer have any desire to break colts; I will let someone younger have the pleasure. I had no problem on my pasture tour last week letting the young man in his 20s get out and open the 15 gates we went through. I didn’t even offer; I think it was some unspoken deference to age. A couple of them looked pretty darn tight and I admit I was plumb glad it was him rather than me.
There are some other clues that I am losing a few of my battles with age. I used to do a semi-jog from the pens to the Quonset when I needed a tool or part. Then I started walking and now I tend to drive the side by side. I play ball with my kids, but dad tends to be the designated quarterback now, leaving the wide receiver and cornerback play to them. My Coke, potato chip and candy bar diet has started to show up around my midline. The hair on top of my head is receding while the hair in my eyebrows grows at a truly phenomenal pace. My back requires stretching when I get up in the morning, and there was a time where I truly took pride in the fact that I only slept four hours per night. I’m starting to embrace the concept that six hours might not be enough.
One of the more difficult things about aging has to do with the kids. I think it comes with their growing independence—you want them to have it, have prayed for it even, but you really don’t like seeing it happen. There was a time not that long ago where I was simply better than the kids. I could outride them, outrun them and outthink them. They had problems and dad had answers. It is both good and bad when you realize that your kids are smarter than you and more talented in areas that you thought were strengths.
I remember when I realized that my dad was human, and I was looking forward to my kids realizing that their father is too. But instead, I’m realizing just how gifted they are, and I see my role less as a provider and more of a guide post to help them avoid the mistakes I’ve made.
Being a male, I kind of nurtured this fantasy that women age and men become more sophisticated, even stately. Grey hair is supposed to make a man more gentlemanly. Well, it hasn’t turned out that way. I actually can envision a “date night” where we go out for dinner, a drink and the movies and my wife gets carded and I get offered the senior discounts.
What’s more, I thought age was supposed to bring profound wisdom; mistakes would decline and my decisions would be golden. I have to admit I’ve made a boat load of mistakes and acquired quite a bit of education as a result, but I know less today than I did 20 years ago. Uncertainty hasn’t declined, and if I have been bestowed with wisdom, someone had better send out the memo, because instead of sitting in my chair and sharing my wisdom with all those younger, I feel an ever-growing urge to seek out even more advice from others.
I’ve always been an optimist, but realistically I understand that as I approach the halfway mark in life (closing in on 50), that I probably only have 50 years left. The first 30 years of my life I’ll chalk up to youthful exuberance, and the last 20 as struggling to build a family and business. The next 50 will be the renaissance years. I’m actually looking forward to getting older, if not old. I truly understand the saying “If I only knew then what I know now.”
I can’t help but wonder what that might mean 20 years down the road. If nothing else, my smarter, faster, and genuinely better kids ought to be able to take care of me. I guess the one thing I have learned without question is to stay focused on the destination, but enjoy the journey every step of the way. That alone is more than enough to look forward to for what undoubtedly will be a great future. “The past is the past, the future but a dream, all we have is the moment. When we make the most of every moment, we are ready to make the most of every day.”
I’ll see you in the future where we will all be a little older and hopefully a little wiser.
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