Thursday, March 26, 2009
Weirdness of Middle Age
Middle age is weird, it is. Ask anyone who is middle aged - they'll tell you the same thing. One of the weirdest things about it is that no one knows what middle age is. When does it begin and when does it end? I don't have a clue. Do you?
For the generation prior to mine, I think it might have started as early as 35, but for sure at age 40. I think of Jack Benny joking that he was always 39. Now "50 is the new 40" so maybe that means for my generation middle age starts at age 50. When does one become old? People tell me that any age plus twenty years is old, so does that mean I'll become officially old at age 76? Seems a bit late to me, but what do I know?
Infants, babies, toddlers, pre-teens, teenagers, and young adults are easy to identify by age. After 30, things get a little more dicey, probably because we live in a culture that is so age-phobic and so terribly age-ist. The kinds of jokes people make about old people would never be publicly acceptable if that same joke was made about a black person or a gay person or someone of a particular nationality or ethnic background, oh no. But it's ok to say, for instance, that a flooded basement "smells like old people." It's no wonder we middle aged people try so hard to pretend we aren't middle aged.
Part of it is pretending. The other piece of it is that as someone wise recently said, the mind does not age. I remember my mother saying how strange it was to look in the mirror and see an old lady staring back at her in shock. When I look in the mirror what I see isn't an old lady, but she sure as hell isn't young anymore either. It is kind of a shock. I'm not the first or the last human to have that experience. If you're younger than 40, please know that if you live long enough, you'll have this experience, too. If you're my age then you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Yep. Middle age? It's so weird. Believe me!