“Y porque gitano soy / Como lo pienso voy / Es un amor / Mi vida.” — “Soy,” Gipsy Kings
Most weeknights I sprawl, lie, or spread-eagle on the sofa opposite to the one upon which My Other Half (MOH) so magisterially sits. Without fail, my mind wanders at some point to the question of whether the person whom I most cherish could save me in the event of a lights-out cardiac arrest? Ninty-five percent of folks die outright in this heart-stopping way. I know that MOH is au fait with a CPR technique that pumps the chest to the beat of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive,” but could this rhythmic remedy be applied effectively and timefully?
This is one of the unremitting, unrelenting concerns that have crept in through the door left ajar upon entering my 40s. As joints creak, parts drip, and my brain leaks, a few things remain. To briefly elucidate the leaky brain thing: The struggle is real with the perennial forgetfulness. A word lost twixt brain and tongue. A Google search gone nowhere as the very reason for opening up my phone escapes me the instant it is required, and while I have never been good with names, my ability to retain new ones is as active as the Cowboys’ Super Bowl prospects or the Mavs’ playoff hopes each mid-January.
The issue with the lights-out thing is that I am a firm believer that when it’s over, it’s over. Let me be more exact and assertive. As an empiricist, I have faith that death is the end of things. In many ways, this is comforting. Once my time is done, I know nothing about it. There is to be no floating on a cloud to eternally survey the progress of those left behind on this mortal coil. Equally, there will be no grand reconciliation with those whose time was up before mine. Given I am resolved to live to 100, then see who is left and what medical science can offer me, I need not worry for a while about the ultimate-ness of death — save for a lights-out event. I’ll keep myself just worried enough, every evening, to stave off complacency.
Getting older brings with it many perks, bordering on revelations. Western society beholds itself obsessively to the cult of youth. We are made to believe that it is right to feel old at 30 years of age. Bullshit. Ninety? That’s getting up there in age. Further, we encourage the young to feel superior, bolstering the sense of infallibility of the partly formed brains of teens and early-twentysomethings. Let these folks be. Their sense of being always right and just is second only to a Prius-driving, yoga mat-owning, Beto sticker-displaying vegan, probably in their late 50s. C’mon now, cool yerself. You know at least one of these types just like I do. They are your mom/boss/partner/crush or some combination thereof.
Back to the upside. Far from being annoyed by the surety of youth and its mass-culture celebration, I now smirk and inwardly pity the teens and twentysomethings for how little they know. Sure, their ignorance can cause collateral damage, much like Donald Rumsfeld’s unknown unknowns. I am free of that crap. I have seen and experienced enough to know what I don’t know, and with a cerebral irascibility to match my physical restiveness, I make it my business to learn shit. Every day. Multiple times. I take my learning with gratitude wherever and from whomever it is available. To get older is to celebrate with and embrace the unknown.
There is a theory of relativity to getting older that is working very much in my favor. I am aging way better –– that is to say more slowly –– than my peers. Sure there is a slowdown and graying –– albeit slight –– and hangovers that last two days. Yet I still hit the gym four times a week, I take the stairs (only on the down), and outside of July and August, I park a little farther away from the grocery store than I need to. Increments or, in the management theory of marginal gains, attention to details to positively affect the whole.
The takeaway from this is, or can be, that confidence in one’s ability to grow older disgracefully is the key, because after 40, you decreasingly care what the cool kids think about that. And that, for me, is huge.
“You know it’s alright / It’s OK / I’ll live to see another day” — “Stayin’ Alive,” the Bee Gees l