Scott Funk: A realization - Hey, I'm an Old Guy

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As kids playing in the canyons near home, we would hide whenever we saw big kids walking through. Then a day came when I recognized the big kids were my friends from school and realized I wasn't a little kid anymore. Same sort of thing happened when I was a teenager, young adult and real adult. At each stage, there was a realization I'd passed over to an older group.

It has happened again. At 69, I'm no longer a grown up; I'm an old guy. People naturally offer me a seat in subways or buses. I get the senior discount without asking. My choice in clothes is determined more by what I'm familiar with than by fashion. Buying two 20-pound bags of birdseed is wiser than one 50-pounder, even though it is slightly more expensive. I can compliment ladies on their beautiful dresses without being threatening. All indicators I've passed middle age.

Yes, I know "we are only as old as we feel." That is my point: I now actually feel older. Still in the game, but not quite up to my old game. Learning takes longer, goals are more practical, expectations have adjusted down somewhat. Best of all, for the first time in my life, I have enough.

Appreciating I have enough is what tipped me off that things had changed. It began at a library book sale. At a dollar a book, I'm pretty extravagant in the reading risks I take. Yet, this time, as I looked through the history books, they reminded me of all the books I'd already purchased, many still unread. So, I left the sale empty-handed and puzzled.

What had happened? At a buck a book, what was the harm of picking up a few more? Back home, in my library, I perused the shelves, taking note of how many I'd like to read again or haven't read at all. There were enough to keep me reading for the rest of my life.

Wow! Not a thought I'd had before. Enough for the rest of my life. What else did I have enough of? Well, everything, it turns out. Shirts, suits, shoes, pants, (okay, underwear and socks will need replacing), ties, belts, tools, CDs . . . just about everything I considered was enough for the rest of my life.

That's when it hit me: the rest of my life, meant the rest of my life wasn't all that long. Not a lot of time remains and none of it needs to be wasted acquiring more than I need. I've reached the place of enjoying what is, rather than chasing what might be. Just in time, too, because I'm not moving as fast as I used to.

Then came my 69th birthday and very few presents. Which was great. The cards and sentiments were enough. Sixty-nine, content with enough, enjoying a slower pace? Wait a minute, I have gotten older! Wham, that's when it hit me: I've become an older person. And, you know, it isn't such a bad thing to be, now that I've realized it.

Scott Funk lives, works, and writes in Vermont. His Boomer Funk columns are available at VermontFunk.com, as are his blogs and archived Aging in Place columns.

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