Hump Day: Getting older: at least the advantages outweigh the angst

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Well, this is the last column I’ll ever write before I turn the big 5-0 next Monday. I can’t believe it. It seems like just yesterday I was the big 4-0 and freaking out about that. And then before that, the big 3-0 and 2-0.

Funny, I do remember turning 10 and thinking how monumental it was to have hit the double digits. Then I blinked and the next thing I know, I’m being told I can’t have a birthday cake unless it’s within 10 feet of a fire extinguisher because of all the candles.

My first 50 years on the planet have been good ones. I can’t complain. At the half-century mark, I seem to have found my stride and own my own business. I have lots to do. I know a bunch of people. If I need something, I have a large network upon which to call for advice and help. That’s the good stuff that comes with age. At this time in my life and others in my age bracket, it’s also our prime income-earning years.

The 1982 class of École Mathieu-Martin is mostly all turning 50 this year. We had our 30th anniversary in 2012 when we were 48. Many of us talked about turning 50 like it was a far off number in the distance. Well, I hate to break it to you, but it’s here, folks. Put your increasingly wrinkled hands on your face and scream!

Funny, though, I don’t seem to mind as much as I thought I would. It seems like 50 was so old years ago. Today, some people are still starting families at 50. Heck, someone who’s a year older than me from university just had his first child. He’s just starting out on the adventure, while many others our age are seeing their kids off to university or even becoming grandparents. We’re in a weird hybrid of endings and beginnings.

Many people I know are thinking ahead to retirement. Those of us who had an opportunity to work in a steady job with a pension certainly have some security down the road. If you were good at stashing money away, you’re good, too.

50I have to admit, that’s the one area where I’m lacking. So far, my pension plan consists of lottery tickets and befriending rich older people with heart conditions. “Yes, Mr. Jones, I’m really an 18-year-old cheerleader. And no, I haven’t found your glasses yet. They’re, uhm, lost. The low voice? Oh, uhm, that’s because of a cold. Now why don’t we put you in that wheelchair and go for a stroll on the train tracks, shall we?”

I have no real plans to retire. I love what I do. I have no desire to stay home and look out the window. There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what you want to do, but it’s not for me. I like being busy – sometimes a bit too much. I just hope I stash enough away so that I don’t end up being impoverished. I don’t want to be buying a bag of cat food when I’m 80 and having to lie to the clerk that I have a cat when I’m really buying it for my Christmas dinner. “Do you have this in mistletoe flavour?”

I want to be one of those retirees who’s as sharp as a tack and the life of the party, cracking dirty jokes and getting extra medication from the staff at the nursing home because I’m one of their favourites. You can never have too much medication. Look at all the pretty colours! Time to stop when the dead relatives tell you to walk toward the light, though. Definitely a sign that you need to slack off when you see great-grandma.

The one thing I’m finding as I age is that I’m caring less and less about what others think. As you get older, you gain confidence – or at least you should if all is going well. There was a time when I’d second guess everything. These days, I hope I’m aware enough to know when I’ve messed up, but I’ve also gained confidence and can speak with authority on a few things. Maybe not everything – but a few things.

Now, I realize some of you reading this are way past 50 and wish you were “only” 50 again. And some others have a long way to go before 50 and can’t imagine ever getting here. Well, God willing, you will make it here.

I really thought I’d be running down the street screaming “Nooooo!” at the thought of turning 50, but I’m not. I’ve said it many times: “The graveyards are filled with people who would have loved to turn 50.” I hope I go to heaven, but I’m in no rush just yet, thank you very much.

I realize that changing decades – no matter which one – is a perfect opportunity to make some changes. Some people join the gym. Some people decide to find that special someone. Some people decide to leave a long-term relationship – or change careers. Hearing the ticking time bomb of mortality growing louder and louder can be nerve-wracking, but it’s more of a call to get your act together than it is to panic and run around with your arms flailing around your head.

What’s the use of being worried about it? I’m OK with getting older. Sure, I feel the odd twinge of angst, but as long as I wake up in the morning, I’m satisfied with that.

Yup, I’m fine with turning 50. But 60. Man, that’s old. When I turn 60 I’ll really freak out. But that’s so far away. It seems like forever. Now, if I can just go through the next decade without blinking, I’ll be fine. Because every time I blink, I’m another 10 years older.

That’s it. It’s time to outlaw blinking. I’ve found the cure for aging!

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