If you’re fortunate, you will live to be old. Yet old age brings thoughts of dread to the young; the best they can say about it is that it beats the alternative.
How little they know. But that’s the defining characteristic of youth: How little they know.
In truth, the “golden years,” are the most liberated, blessed and privileged time of your life.
To appreciate a joyous old age you must accept one inevitable truth: You cannot save your life. You can only spend it.
Know that, and out the window with so-called life-extending diets, which not only are a misery to follow, but change every three months. Fats were suicide a few years ago, now a couple ounces of cheese daily is good for you. Emaciation was the key to longevity just the other day, now carrying a few extra pounds means a few extra years.
Keto diets, paleo diets, the fads never end. The smartest diet is a diet from diets. But try not to get too fat.
The best reason not to gain weight as you age is your wardrobe. If you’re lucky, it, like you, is old. But if you get fat and have to buy new, you’re going to become more stylish. There is nothing more ridiculous than an old person being trying to be stylish.
When you’re young, you’re always struggling with one existential question: “What’s wrong with me?” The answer is “nothing” but you’ll still delve deep into your youth-addled unconscious for a reason, usually wrong. When you’re old you’ll figure that out. End of angst.
When you’re old, people will disregard you. You might think this would be a liability. You’d be mistaken.
Plus, you get to be a grump. I’d tell you about the extreme bliss getting license to be a grump provides, but you’ll have to find out for yourself. So maybe you should do that keto diet after all.
You will gain altitude as you age. Eventually you’ll crash and burn, but until the accidents of living murder you, you’ll gain perspective, every day, with every new, or, more to the point, repeated experience.
Even politics is easier to take when you’re old. Donald Trump came as a shock to the system to most young people. They didn’t see him coming and when he came they didn’t know what they were seeing.
Donald Trump surprised most of us ancient mariners too. But we know exactly what we’re seeing. We’ve seen it before.
Youth lacks humility because youth is an ass. We’re all asses but the young haven’t been alive long enough to know it. Along with age comes humility and a healthy skepticism of everything, especially oneself. That gift is invaluable.
I remember, must have been around 1964, a new food stand near the beach at Ocean City Maryland. It had a big sign saying, “Will the taco replace the hot dog?”
I got a good laugh about that for the next decade or so. Then again, their tacos stunk, so it wasn’t all my fault.
When you turn 65 the government should swap your Social Security card for an Old Folks License. “The bearer of this card shall be entitled to the best seats on public transit, shall be able to cut the line at any theater, entertainment venue and restaurant, and park in any designated handicap parking place, so long as another is open for authorized placard holders.
“His or her use of antiquated racial, sexual or ethnic terms is a part of his or her cultural heritage and shall be excused.
“In addition, the bearer of this card is allowed to call wait staff and other service providers “honey or doll” without said employee taking offense. In bearer’s time, such terms were expressions of endearment, not harassment or disrespect.”
These are great times to be an old person. We may not be able to tweet or blog or snapchat, but we’re vintage. And nothing is hipper than retro.
There is joy to be had between Depends and dementia. You’ve earned the right to ignore the fashions of the day, to laugh at the follies of the present, to live both in the moment and in all the moments you’ve lived.
Old age is all you have to look forward to, children. So take good care of yourself, but not too good. Enjoy the present. There could be an idiot Uber with your name on it barreling down Market Street. You never know.