A decade or so ago I mentioned to my friend David, who is five days older than me, that I wasn’t afraid of dying but I wasn’t looking forward to aging. I wasn’t ready to accept life as a middle aged man, I didn’t want to have to wear glasses all the time, and I wasn’t ready to go completely gray (not that there’s a lot to go gray anyways).
Here we are over 10 years later and I’m a middle aged man. I’m surviving this just fine. With middle age comes accomplishment and hopefully some wisdom and I feel like I’ve settled pretty well into the role.
I’m flying airplanes with relative ease. I can manage a decent hike with friends. I still can ride my bicycle, and I don’t need vitameatavegamin to stop from pooping out at parties. Sure, I go to bed early when I have to get up early for work. I really don’t like whatever tries to pass as “Popular Music” these days (it all sounds like uninspired, metallic robot noises to me) and I’m losing patience with folks much younger than me that speak with authority on “history” with a remarkable amount of inaccuracy and then want to argue the point even though I was there and they weren’t even born yet.
As a middle aged American man I believe I’ve seen the modern United States as we know it peak about 20 years ago and start to wane. My husband and I have been debating this a little bit. I’ve seen polarization like I’ve never seen before and even family members talk about things, often from very different points of view, in ways we would have never dreamed of discussing a few decades ago.
I take medication to keep important blood test results in check, I proudly wear glasses, and yes, I’ve accepted my gray hair enough to grow my mustache back and feel comfortable with it. I have wrinkles around the eyes, probably from too much smiling over the decades, and my voice is not quite as youthful as it was when I was in Top 40 radio 30 years ago.
And I’m OK with all of this.
Life feels like it’s moving faster and faster. I still don’t feel like a grown up, but I feel like I at least I look the part. I feel absolutely no impulse to change the natural aging process of my body; what you see is what you get. And for the first time in my life, ever, I am comfortable with the way I look.
Short version? Middle age is awesome.