I May Be 45 Years Old Now, But I Intend to Stay Young for at Least Another Year

7 Jun

Martin is turning 45I recently read an article about a man named Nobuaki Nagashima, who, at age 33, was diagnosed with Werner syndrome. Werner, if you don’t know, is a disease that causes the body to age too fast. So, for example, when he was just 25 years old, Nagashima had already developed cataracts. At 28, he had pains in his hips. And at 30, he had skin problems on his leg. All of this was before doctors even knew what was wrong with him and had diagnosed him with Werner.

According to the article, people with Werner syndrome typically develop wrinkles, experience weight loss, greying hair, and premature balding. Werner is also known to cause a hardening of the arteries, heart failure, diabetes, and cancer.

Yikes.

The universe works in mysterious ways, so I suspect it wasn’t a coincidence that I discovered this story a couple weeks before my 45th birthday (which is today, by the way). After all, like Nagashima, I, too, have felt like I’m getting old prematurely. Sure, I’m already in my mid-40s. And I don’t have the same symptoms Nagashima did. But I do have others. For example:

  • I have a favorite nightly news program … and it’s CBS. Not only that, I watch CBS Sunday Morning every single week. And have, for years.
  • I get random injuries. Like a bruised tailbone earlier this year, which resulted in me actually buying and sitting on a seat cushion for two months so I could be more comfortable at work.
  • I regularly complain about millennials and other young(er) people who annoy me — including my upstairs neighbor, who just finished her freshman year of college.
  • Staying home on a Saturday night to catch up on DVR’d shows is not something that fazes me.
  • I’m fond of dad jokes.
  • Conversations with my friends about colonoscopies and heart health are a not-uncommon occurrence.
  • My parents’ health, safety, and general well-being are a constant concern.
  • I’ve become a creature of habit, following the same routines, eating at the same places, and doing the same things in the same ways all the time. (Sometimes to a stubborn degree.)
  • I have friends whose children have already graduated from college — and other friends (around my age and younger) who’ve passed away.
  • My favorite singer is Bruce Springsteen.

The thing is, for the most part, I embrace these things. I’m not ashamed about any of them. So what if some of them make me out to be a grumpy old man. I just think that’s funny.

But the question remains: When did I get so old? There definitely have been signs, but it feels like this happened overnight.

Time flies

I mean, even the New York Times had the audacity recently to remind me and others of my generation that we’re older than we used to be. (Thank you as well to Captain Obvious.) As the paper’s interactive feature explained, the oldest members of Generation X today are 54; its youngest are preparing for 40.

Need some reminders of how much time has passed? The Netscape web browser and the movie Reality Bites were both released 25 years ago, in 1994. Tim Burton’s Batman, a huge movie I spent much of my freshman year of high school waiting to see, turned 30 this year. So did Dead Poets Society. Nineties-era groups like Bikini Kill, Wu-Tang Clan, and Hootie & the Blowfish are all embarking on “reunion” tours this year. (I’m actually going to the Hootie show later this summer, and yes, I plan to buy one of those “I Still Like Hootie, Bitch” t-shirts.)

The list goes on. So, yeah. I’m old.

Before I get too ahead of myself, though, I should note that, apparently, there are benefits to being of advanced age. To wit: A 2018 study conducted by MIT in conjunction with the U.S. Census Bureau found that a 50-year-old is twice as likely to have massive success than a 30-year-old. Conventional wisdom says that the older you get, the more experiences, successes, failures, and information you have to draw from. All of that makes you better at making tough decisions and assessing risk.

“You don’t need to be 25 years old to have your greatest performance,” seven-time mountain bike world champion Rebecca Rusch told Outside magazine. She should know: At age 47, Rusch was part of the third party ever to summit Mount Kilimanjaro by bike.

And my options are improving in other ways: According to a recent study, 10 percent of babies today are born to fathers over 45, whereas 40 years ago the number was only 4 percent. So there’s that.

This is great and all, but the thing is, I don’t want to be this old. And in many ways, I’m not. I’m carrying a few extra pounds, but aside from that, I don’t look my age. As the guy who cuts my hair keeps reminding me, I still have all my hair — and then some — and hardly any of it has turned grey.

More important, I’m not settled and I definitely don’t take myself too seriously. I still do silly (some might say stupid) things. I still prioritize the wrong things. I still eat lots of unhealthy foods (mac and cheese … yum). I still read every issue of Entertainment Weekly cover-to-cover even though it’s clearly not geared to readers my age anymore. When I go to concerts, which I still do often, I’m someone who will stand and dance the entire time — even if the (usually older) people behind me tell me to sit down. And I still watch TV shows I probably should have stopped paying attention to ages ago (ahem, hello, MTV’s The Challenge).

In addition, I still try to have fun and cram in as many things as I can when I travel (because I can), even if it’s a work trip. And in spite of everything that’s going on in the world right now, I can still look at the bright side and maintain a positive attitude.

I mean, I’m excited that in addition to it being my birthday today, it’s also National Doughnut/Donut Day. And I spent Erev Yom Ha’Martin eating all the ice cream I could stomach at the Scooper Bowl.

This spring, I jumped at the chance to write for my college’s student newspaper again, 23 years after I graduated.

New York Times quiz revealed that I was only an “honorary Gen Xer” and was “hereby granted the rights to live [my] life like a perpetual angsty teen.” (True story.)

And heck, I still enjoy celebrating my birthday!

So I guess the truth is, I may be old, but it’s fair to say I’m not a grown up. Or at the very least — to phrase it in a more positive way — I’m still actively trying to stay young.

After all, I still have a lot of living to do, a lot more I want to accomplish, a lot of things I still need to do, a lot I still need to learn.

There’s a lot of life I still need to experience. A lot of things I still want to enjoy while I still can.

I fully admit that I may still be kind of immature in some respects, and I could take better care of myself and be more responsible or further along in my life and career … but so what. I’m happy. Mostly. And that’s a good thing.

No, scratch that. I’m happy and that’s the important thing.

The calendar might tell me I’m turning another year older today, and I may have some qualities of being middle-aged. But to that, I say, “Get off my lawn!” If I have a say in the matter (and I do), I think I’m going to try and hold on to my youth for a bit longer.

For at least another year, anyway.

Maybe I’ll grow up next year. Check with me when I turn 46 and see if anything’s changed.

In the meantime … Happy birthday to me!

Want to wish me a happy birthday? (Awww … Thanks!) Tweet this blog post.

3 Responses to “I May Be 45 Years Old Now, But I Intend to Stay Young for at Least Another Year”

  1. Dr Andrew Albert June 9, 2019 at 6:08 am #

    “And I spent Erev Yom Ha’Martin eating all the ice cream I could stomach at the Scooper Bowl!” lol and you talk about Colonoscopy! Damn right! Happy Happy Birthday (not) Old Friend!

    • Martin Lieberman June 9, 2019 at 8:40 am #

      The colonoscopy talk is all because of you, so … thanks? 😉

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The 2019 Happiness Project | Martin's Musings - June 7, 2019

    […] at work and I had a fun time at the Red Sox game (even though they lost) and people seemed to like my blog post and it was just a good day overall. And I really loved the message that Ian wrote in his card: […]

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