As a 60-year-old man, I’m the first to admit that I’m neither comfortable with, nor accepting of, my age.
But I’m also not so out of touch with reality that I think I can do a damn thing about it.
This awareness, however, doesn’t make things any better.
I look in the mirror and i see someone who bears only a vague resemblance to the handsome young man who relied on his appearance and charm to open doors.
Now such cavalier behavior comes across as creepy and deluded.
This “old guy” just flirted with me!
Wow. That might have been me.
See, I feel trapped in a body that no longer feels like my own. I’m inside of it bouncing around, unhinged and spiraling.
Who is this person I’ve become?
My 84-year-old mother confessed to me the other day that she still feels like a kid, but knows it’s just life’s way of doing what it does to maintain our instinct for survival.
As many of you who read my blog and know me personally are already aware, I live with a woman half my age.
In another reality, she might very well be my daughter. She is also child-free and rebellious like I was at her age.
Together, we live in a kind of cocoon of art, entertainment and fitness, the later of which being the primary outlet for our interaction with others.
Other men my age have children in the workforce with wives and children of their own. A few are married to the same women they met back in college.
This is normal.
The reason I bring this up is because the only way that men like me mature properly is to deny ourselves introspection through chaos [i.e., distraction].
But because there is no chaos in the form of “a boss,” “children,” an “age-relevant wife” and a culture group built on conformity, I’m like a wild animal that that digs deeper with every step, making my journey more conscious, more aware, and less resilient where acceptance is concerned.
The truth is most people don’t think about any of this to the point of distraction bordering on preoccupation.
They live vicariously through their children, and allow themselves to be swept up into the mindset of friends, wives, country clubs and common vacation destinations.
They throw up their hands, get into the hospital system, and disappear into enclaves populated by others of their kind until they fall ill and die.
This is also normal.
But guess what?
There are others of my kind who fight this every step of the way. Not that it gets us anywhere, but we do it anyway.
God did this to us.
He put us here to do a couple of things and then die.
But many of us refuse to die under any circumstances, so we’re forced to suffer through a kind of extended Purgatory of the mind.
There are books and drugs to calm the mind, both natural and otherwise, but in the end we’re stuck here in these distraction-free zones cannibalizing our innards.
Here are the only ways I know to fight back with a reasonable expectation of success:
1] Travel constantly, or at least every other weekend. While it is nerve-wracking, it usually doesn’t kill us, which makes us stronger, psychologically.
2] Go to the damn gym no matter how crappy you feel because after a workout, you will again find yourself full of enough endorphin high to get you through the next 12 hours. For extra endorphins, lift very heavy weight. There’s nothing like it to get your head back to ground level.
3] Laugh as much as possible. Even if you’re depressed, laughter is a sure-fire way of exorcising noonday demons without the help of a Catholic priest.
4] Retail therapy is an integral part of happiness as we age. Yesterday I bought some new Bose Noise Reduction headphones and it did me good all through last night.
5] Have passionate interests. I’m never bored because I love to play musical instruments, write, read, take photographs go to the gym and watch commercial-free television shows on my Macbook Pro. If you’re not passionate about anything, you’re toast.
6] Spend time each day around normal people so you can appreciate just how wonderful abnormality really is…no matter how bad it can often seem.
7] Spend a lot of time in water. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a shower, bathtub, ocean or swimming pool. There’s something about it that feels cathartic. Yesterday I took three showers, one whirlpool and 20 laps in the swimming pool.
8] Go back to your music collection and play something you really love as loud as possible for 10 minutes, preferably after a glass of wine or a joint if you happen to live in Colorado.
9] Find a massage therapist who actually performs massage, not trigger point. The idea is to feel good, and therefore, escape. this usually works for a good 24 hours.
10] Have erotic sex as often as possible no matter how much it may irritate your lower back. The absence of depression will more than make up for it and keep you feeling relevant and alive.
and last, but not least…
11] Nurture those closest to you. The rest are irrelevant at this point.
If you still wonder if or why people don’t see the same young man they saw when you were a young man, please reread this.