When I was young, I found old people
fascinating. And by old, I mean in their 30s or 40s. Anybody 50 and above was in a whole different category of old.
Whenever I interacted with somebody 30
or above (and I kept these instances as few and far between as I
could), they always seemed tired and dejected, as if life had stolen
their very essence from them.
I found that depressing. In my mind (and it's still a weird tic I have), whatever age somebody is when
I meet them for the first time is the age they have always been. If I
met you at the age of 37, you've always been 37. You were never
young and youthful, never had your entire life laid out in front of
you. You came into the world with middle age just around the corner.
It's only in retrospect that I
realize the one thing youth has that fades away as you age. No, it's
not looks. Some of us are never blessed in that department. It's
not dreams. You'll keep dreaming that the life you want is just a
little out of reach and all you have to do is take it, even after
you've been beaten down and are sometimes scared to leave the
It's energy. The energy to get up and
do whatever needs to be done. The energy to not look up from a
sitting position and blow out your breath as you wonder if it's
worth getting up. The energy to look forward to another day.
I was reading a columnist in the
Knoxville daily the other day and she was lamenting the loss of her
own energy, saying how stunned she is that now she looks forward to
collapsing on the couch at the end of the day and watching TV with
That resonated with me as that's
pretty much how the wife and I end every day now. The end of the can
come as early as 6 p.m. or 8 p.m. or later depending on whether I
have any after hours stuff to cover.
Granted, the couch sitting can come
later during summer as we're outside doing things ranging from
sitting on the porch to slogging through yard work. But no matter the
time of the year, at some point we end up on the couch, watching TV.
That's not entirely true. During
boring shows, or reruns (we tend to like Big Bang Theory marathons on
TBS), we can be found either staring intently at computer tablets or
cell phones. Still counts as a viewing screen, I suppose.
It wasn't always that way. When we
were first married, around the time the wheel was invented, I don't
remember just sitting around at the end of the day and doing nothing.
There were places to go, things to do. If nothing else, a country
drive at the end of a summer day could really take the edge off.
I know, gas was five cents a gallon
then, but I still must ask, where did the energy go?
It could be a health thing. My health
hasn't been that great this year, but more than anything I feel a
certain malaise. Nothing really excites me any more (other than the
prospect of feeling normal again).
Was it true when John Mellencamp sang,
so many years ago, that "life goes on long after the thrill of
living is gone?" Do we really peak so early and spend the majority
of our lives just slogging along, waiting for the end, saying we’ll
be glad when there's nothing else to worry about, but still
dreading it all the same?
Of course not. There are people my age
having the time of their lives. As I prepare to leave my mid forties
and head into the latter stage of that decade, I want to grab them by
the shirt, give them a good shake and ask, "What in the world are
you doing different from me?"
Whatever the answer would be, I'm
sure it wouldn't involve sitting on the couch at the end of the
day, watching TV. Though, honestly, I do look forward to that.
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