The reluctance of age

I’m struggling to produce content for this blog lately.  Not sure if it’s the time of year, or the time of my life, or what.  It’s not that there isn’t an abundance of things going on around me.  It’s not that I don’t want to write about this stuff.  So, yeah, I think it’s more a reluctance to talk about what’s swirling around in my head.

So, let’s just get it out of the way, then.  Let’s just empty out all that crap that’s swirling around up there, shall we?

I had the great fortune to meet up with a couple of guys I’ve known since Grade 11.  These are guys I’ve known for almost 35 years, so we go way back.  We know a lot of each others’ secrets from our formative years.  I’ve seen both of these guys do some dumb shit and they can say the same for me.  We’ve shared a lot of laughs, we’ve had arguments, and we share that bond that only those that went through the journey of boys to men can have.

P is a career Navy man.  He basically went in pretty much straight from high school.  He’s been all over the world and he’s seen a lot of things I’m sure few of the rest of us would prefer to remain blind about.  Defending your nation takes a special breed.  I know I’m not the right kind of person for that job.  Funny enough, had you asked me 30 years ago, I would have expressed my doubts that P was the right person, just from what I’d seen of him in high school.  I have none of those doubts now.

D’s area of expertise is in building houses.  D was always the hardest working of any of us in high school.  He always had jobs when the rest of us were sitting around listening to our records or goofing off.  He was the first person to ever own a 12-speed bicycle in our little town and he cut a hell of a lot of grass to earn it.  And I don’t think he’s ever slowed that pace of work since.

So now, after all these years, we all happened to be in Ottawa when I had to bring my daughter up for an end-of-term exam.  I dropped her off at her rez and headed over to meet D.

We had a great conversation for about an hour while we waited for P to finish work for the day.  We talked about a lot of stuff, but I took two things away from that hour.

The first is, D is, for all his small-town, down-home charm and personality, a very, very smart man.  It’s not something I’ve ever doubted, but I’m sure there’s some that may make the mistake of viewing him as less than whip-smart.  That would be an error of great magnitude.

The second is, he’s getting old.  As are we all, but he’s not in the greatest health right now, and I fear for him.  More on this shortly.

P got home and we all headed out to dinner.  The old stories were trotted out and they’d aged well.  We had a lot of laughs.  The 18-year-olds that were buried in these 48-year-old bodies and minds came out to play for a while and it was a great thing to behold.  I still look back on those latter-teen years as some of the best of my life.  I’m always glad to go back to that time for a visit.

After dinner, we headed back to P’s “cell” as he calls it–his real home’s out East–and we settled in and talked for another three hours.  We talked about old friends from high school and where they were now.  We talked about our kids and, as aggravating as they are, how they likely weren’t anywhere near as bad as we were (that kind of came as a shock to me, but in the end, it was a pleasant and hopeful shock).  We talked of our parents, both alive and dead.  We talked about our jobs and the good parts and the frustrations of them.

We covered a lot of ground and basically brought each other up to speed on the intervening time between our get-togethers.

I enjoyed it very much, I had a great time getting to know two guys who had been very important to me three decades earlier.  Much of my sense of humour, many of my jokes and expressions come from these two guys.  Hell, they show up in my fiction, though greatly exaggerated and changed.

My point is, I love these guys.  They know me in some ways, better than anyone else in the world just because of what we experienced and lived through.  Together.

But what bothers me is, as I said previously, they’re getting old.  I’m getting old too.  One talked about freaking out when he tipped the scales at far higher than he ever wanted to be.  One talked about having a bad reaction to some drugs to treat his hiatus hernia.  One talked about heel spurs.  One talked about having high blood pressure.  One talked about a possible blockage in an artery.  One talked about being diabetic.  One talked about issues with their prostate.  One talked about having their cholesterol “through the roof”.

Obviously I’m being cagey about who said what, because I don’t want to call anyone out.  But I couldn’t help but start to feel my own mortality at several points through the night.

I’m still coming to grips with the fact that I likely have less time ahead of me than I’ve had behind me now.  It’s not an easy fact to wrap your head around.  At least, it isn’t for me, the guy that mentally stopped aging around 21.  And, for the most part, I actually feel healthier than I did at that age.  God knows I’m a happier person than I was at that age.

I guess, just hearing a lot of this made me realize that it’s only going to get tougher from here on out.  Believe me, I’m not going to go quietly, and I’m not going to sit back and accept my fate.  Screw that.

I intend to be the biggest pain in the ass when it comes to shuffling off this mortal coil.

But still…that’s some tough stuff to swallow.

So forgive the mostly maudlin blog…seems like the last couple have been.  So, unless something crazy happens, the next one, I promise, ain’t gonna be maudlin, morose or moribund.

Life’s too short for that shit, right?


10 thoughts on “The reluctance of age

  1. Well sure, we hesitate to alienate our readers by revealing our worries…but then again, it’s an act of courage to be candid. I’m 48 so I can relate to the anxiety about aging. I face it down every day when the first thing that I become aware of is that I’m achy all over.

    I’m getting ready to meet up with longtime girlfriends next month, so your post was especially interesting. It made me think back on what we tend to discuss when we do our Girls Lunch Out every year. Grandchildren, husbands, heartaches, the funny things that happened when we all worked at the same company…maybe 2% will be about health challenges, ours and our spouses’. Which is curious, now that I think about it, because the stereotype is that women are more inclined to talk openly than men do among each other.

    You’re healthier and happier now than at 18, but you empathize with your buddies’ physical degeneration. Are you feeling a smidge guilty that you’re faring better? Did you have a moment, while listening to them, when in your head you were saying, “But I feel grrrreat for my age”? Because if you did, it wouldn’t make you a bad friend.

    Oh! I just realized: women tend to worry much more about our declining looks (assuming our health is good). Yup, guilty. I’m sitting here waiting for the dye to soak into my roots so I can extend the illusion of youth a little longer. And I’m having to weigh which is the lesser evil: the unwanted side effect of “unexplained weight gain” from Rogaine or the quarter-size clearing where I normally part my hair.

    Yeah, it’s gonna get tougher, but while my concerns are these superficial, I’ll indulge myself.

    • That’s one of the things I honestly don’t worry about, is my looks as I age. Guys are lucky that way, I guess. We tend to go one of two ways…we either end up looking distinguished (like say, Sean Connery), or extinguished (like a crumpled cigarette in an ashtray full of butts). I don’t think I’m falling into that cigarette category just yet.

  2. I think one of the best things anyone can do for themselves is to keep the “young” state of mind and couple it with all the experience and knowledge they’ve gained through their life. In other words, know your limits. If you don’t test them, they won’t work against you. You’ve got a way to go before you’re through.

    • Good point, Jason. There’s times, though, when I wish I could uncouple some of that knowledge and experience…but you’re absolutely right, know your limits, but push against them the odd time. Everyone needs to check out Jason’s awesome blog, Fear in Words, found here.

  3. I know what you mean. While our ages differ by two decades or so, I feel old inside and must make a great effort to adopt a “young” state of mind.

    Just do your best.

    Ever hear “My Back Pages” by Bob Dylan? He wrote that when he was twenty-four, but it’s a very introspective song.



    • Ah, Dylan’s a special case though, Millie. He’s an old soul, always was. I don’t think anyone would ever describe me as an old soul. Immature dork? Absolutely. And maybe because I’ve also made a great effort to adopt a young state of mind. I’m like one of Peter Pan’s Lost Boys…I don’t wanna grow up. And for everyone else, go check out Millie’s interesting and introspective blog here.

      • If you’re ever feeling weighed down with age, do what Peter Boyle does on the set of Everybody Loves Raymond: sniff up the youth of his grandchildren. (Though I doubt you’ll need it–or have grandchildren.)

        Thank you for including me under “Writing”, Tobin. I look forward to more thoughts from you, and best of luck with teaching!

  4. Sooner or later we all wrestle with the question of our own mortality and I view it as a good thing. For instance, the book I am writing about my paternal Grandmother (and resolved to finish in 2012!) was birthed from the desire to share with my children an important part of their history they wouldn’t know of unless I write about it and the village I grew up in. An epiphany moment was when I had a severe arthritis flare-up two years ago and couldn’t work in the way I was accustomed to anymore. None of think we’re going to get sick or have to change our lifestyle, and it’s quite the shock if and when we do. A young heart and mindset we can have forever…

  5. Your last 2 posts have been great. No indication of struggling for content!

    Wondering if there is any connection between your state of mind here and the Lennon anniversary taking you back in time. That’s alot of emotions packed into a week or so.

  6. Pingback: What I got from spam « Left to Write

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