2015-01-15 – Oh, what is it like to get old?
I suppose that question comes to mind because today I have a sore back. Most likely the soreness is due to the snow shoveling I was doing from last weekend through Tuesday. The pain started then. But last night I was moved to Google “kidney stones.” I don’t have ‘em. If the symptoms were even close, I would be obsessing about them.
Is that what you do when you get old?
When I was younger and went to the doctor, he would tell me I was having growing pains and I would get over it—no medical intervention necessary. Nowadays, when I tell the doctor about some pain I am having, he says it’s my age and that I’ll get over it, with time. When I was young I got worried about appendicitis when my friend Buzzy had an appendectomy. We didn’t have Google then, so whenever I had a twinge, I Googled my imagination and imagined that I had appendicitis. That persisted into my 30s, when my doctor told me what appendicitis really was like. Don’t need a doctor for that now. I have Google.
When I talk about getting old, my wife Kit says that she doesn’t feel old, so she isn’t. And she certainly doesn’t look old. I don’t either, except for the white beard. If I shaved it off, there wouldn’t be a lot of gray, but the hair on top is a little thin. I have to keep the beard to balance it off. In my day job, I write about insurance, so the issue of age is before me constantly, statistically, with mortality and morbidity tables and such. By the math, I am late middle age, close to being a young senior. But the truth is, I’m like Kit. I don’t really have a sense of being any age. I’m just . . . me—as I always have been.
I’m probably more physically active than I was when I was young. My feet hurt more, but that’s probably because I walk miles every day now. Not so when I was a youth.
I can see how an old geezer like me could become a dirty old man. I see a pretty girl and I’m excited. The straight man inside this body has no age. There is one difference, though. I am also attracted to older women. I certainly wasn’t when I was a whippersnapper. (Kit, that reference to older women doesn’t mean you, of course. But don’t worry. I’ll leave the older women alone.)
So, have I gotten conservative with age? That’s what they say happens.
My answer is yes and no. But this has more to do with the way our society has changed than with how I have changed. I’ve always been pretty much to the left on labor and social issues, more to the middle on economics (meaning that I think we need to share the wealth, but be frugal about it).
So in the politics of today, I am a flaming liberal and have always been. But I believe that these values are, at least, philosophically conservative. Wanting to feed the hungry and pay a worker what he is worth are biblical values. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
But that’s not where our society is these days. So I guess I am a rebel of an advancing age. Not your typical old guy.