This can't be true. It couldn't happen to us. Middle age? Hah! Come on....look at our bodies, our faces, our garb -- the essence of hip, cutting edge cool. Why, we talk like our kids and have many of their same concerns: spending too much time on the Net, overfilling our iPods, affording gas to get out of the house, environmental putrification. We have so much in common with the very young young young!! We're just late bloomers, us boomers.
And....if you harken back to Biblical tales and measurements of life, and at the moment I prefer to harken, we are veritable Babies in kindelahgarten! Moses lived a reputed 120 years, which was quite young if one were to grade on a curve, when compared to Great Grandpa Noah who lived 950 years, surviving flood and the concomitant overcrowding on the ark and all that poor sanitation. He was fortunate to be in the lineage of Seth, who lived to be 912 and Seth's papa, the first man, Adam, exited Eden to be a ripe old 930 due to all that ripe old fruit, plus an apple a day. And as Gershwin had Sportin' Life sing in "Porgy and Bess," "Methusalah lived 900 years"—but, see, he lied about his age, for, according to the Bible, he was off by, count 'em 69 Biblical years!
So what if numbers belie our youthful verve: our birthdays in mid century digits, high school reunions of several decades where all our peers look reeeaaally old, man. So what if the age of our kids and their kids begin to slap us upside the head. For self-preservation of my vanity and sanity, I'm starting to look at these middle years in a whole new way, as merely the halfway mark in my long life to come--unless they prolong life beyond our current expectations, in which case we folks in our fifties could be practically prenatal!
Fifty is the new ten. I am now in my "adult-essence," dealing with new hormonal shifts and no pimples to show for it. I am now taking baby steps to true maturity. I'm finally learning to relax, to stop trying so hard. I'm in my awkward, in between age, all gangly long- legged enthusiasm for the next phase of schooling in self- acceptance. I am rolling back my odometer to zero and starting anew. I am a throwback, a "Baby Boomer-ang" returning to beginners' mind with much to learn about true maturity. And I have some very good teachers.
I am a throwback, a "Baby Boomer-ang" returning to beginners' mind with much to learn about true maturity.
I had the good fortune to play opposite Kirk Douglas in the re enactment of his Bar Mitzvah at 83 on "Touched by an Angel," indeed a kosher ritual for a second manhood in our religion. I can have my first Bat Mitzvah party when I'm that age, too. And get back all those presents. Kirk is unfazed by his body's slackening, he tells me; his spirit is thriving far better than in his beauty-hampered, indiscretion filled youth. And he still gets lots of film work, which is more than I can say for young babes like me.
When my adorable mother retired at 66, there was no dread, no fear, no self-judgment about aging. Her attitude was blissful: "School is out!" she shouted. She had grown so bored with her workaday routine. She had so many books to read, classical CD's to enjoy, visits to my sister and me to make, conversations to monopolize. My mother knows how to have a darn good time and is a great role model for growing up not old.
Recently, my sister and I moved her into a fancy schmancy new home, pleased she got promoted into this class of graduating seniors consisting of professors, doctors, lawyers, all learning the life of gathering wisdom with no responsibility to apply it for world or their kids' betterment. It felt like we were taking our giggling eldest girl to college for the first time, enrolling her in a university atmosphere of classes, concerts, screenings, lectures, learning and exercise. She was never a mover and shaker before -- take my word for it, but now?! Mom's begun performing in the concerts, writing for the newsletter, getting politically active, learning to swim and line dance for the first time in her life.
My mother's lunch and dinner cards are filled with a plethora of playmates. She has her favorites, of course, and gossips avidly about those gossips for whom she has no patience. But for the last six months, we've noticed she's developed a frequency of dining and doing laundry experiences with an 'Arthur.' It took me a few weeks to realize that most of her dinners were now with "Artie", and soon with 'Art' and that these were all the same guy, in different phases of familiarity as she gets more fermished.
Their social life is uncomplicated. They never have to worry about who will drive, or open the car door, where they'll go, or who will pay. That's all taken care of by their offspring, the new parents in this modern hierarchy of care. Why, for Chanukah last year, we gave Mom new front teeth!
This Passover, I'm passing over the self-judgments foisted on us by the insecure and the whole concept of middle age. I'm just getting' started. It seems there is still much to look forward to at this halfway point. So in this next era, I invite you, my distinguished peers with all the advantages of modern medicine, to join me in kickin' it old school en route to a possible 120!