The other day as I sat on a hard bench watching a football game, it seemed like time was standing still. There was no yesterday, or tomorrow, only the moment. I had an incredible sense of just being. I remember days and months and years filled with regret and anticipation, and in the darkest of nights I still sometimes lay there wishing things had turned out differently or that tomorrow would be something other than what I think it will be. Those long nights happen far less frequently these days. I like to pretend sometimes that I don’t know why, but I would be kidding myself. It’s because last month I got old, um, older. I hit that magical plateau where I’m supposed to wear medallions on top of my manly chest hair and drive around in a convertible I can’t afford fooling myself that young women still dig me.
That’s right, I’m 50 years old, baby.
I guess the number doesn’t really matter. I mean, hitting a certain mark on the calendar doesn’t automatically impart any special wisdom, so it probably has nothing to do with any epiphany I might have had. In the spirit of keeping it real, if you are an idiot at 49 chances are good that you will be an idiot at 50. I’ve spent a few weeks on the other side of that magical number and I have yet to discover the genius required to work out, say, a unified theory of everything that will positively refute the science of quantum mechanics—between work, Xbox and a stubborn hot tub, I’ve found it hard to concentrate on the math.
Can we even call it middle age anymore? It’s doubtful that I will live to 100 years old, at least not in this body. By the time I hit 80, say, science might find a way to put my brain into a robot body, or at least into a jar filled with some sort of bubbly liquid where I can be mocked by a mad scientist who aspires to world domination. It’s safe to say, though, that nature will probably take its course and my entire body, brain and all, will be in the ground in less than 50 years. I don’t know if my post office pension will be enough to provide a decent marker, but really, a stick with a post it note stuck to it, with my name and pertinent dates scrawled across it in crayon, will be more than sufficient.
I remember an English teacher I had back in Colorado when I was a junior in high school. I asked her one day if she ever wished she were a teenager again.
“No!” she responded, a bit more emphatically than I expected. “I like where I am right now.”
Being that she must have been somewhere in her 40’s at the time, which to my 17 year old brain meant that she must literally be calcifying right there in front of me, I couldn’t understand then why she wouldn’t want her youth back. Of course I know now what she meant—the uncertainty, the peer pressure, the zits…who would want to go through all that again? She was in that place that I found myself in the other night—that state of contentment that comes with being happiest right where you are.
Because, just like the old adage says, wherever you are, that’s where you’re at.