I realize that talking about age is an over-trodden path, with clever and well-worn commentary everywhere about things like forgetting why you walked into a room or how everything hurts in the morning. Bob Hope and George Burns made a living off that. Those are well-worn shoes, those musings. And I imagine all of them are true stories for the many of us who are getting up there in age. And by mentioning Bob Hope and George Burns, I realize I’m getting up there in age.
I’m 51. I still see a younger version of me every single day in the mirror. I can’t really see my own aging – the progression just isn’t as obvious when you see yourself multiple times per day. Also, if you have no hair like me then there’s also less of a barometer, other than the fact that you’ve lost all your hair. But when you see someone for the first time in 25 years, BAM! Someone who knew me and my long, black hair 25 years ago would get that BAM moment if they saw me for the first time since 1997.
That’s the physical, though. The front-end. There’s much more, of course.
Where I really feel age is the mental side and I don’t mean the Bob Hope/George Burns jokey parts. While those are easy jokes and fun to talk about, there’s a few other areas where I’ve really noticed changes over the years:
Sports: I just don’t care as much as I get older. There was a time when I was buying Red Sox 15-game ticket packs, parking it on the couch every Sunday for Patriots games and more recently, I held Bruins season tickets for 10 seasons (2011-2020). Don’t take that to mean that I don’t care at all, but at this point the only sport I watch with any regularity is hockey and even then, it’s not appointment television for me anymore. I replaced the season tickets with a golf membership, which is cheaper and provides more exercise and mental challenge for me, along with time spent with family and friends. I truly realized this dynamic of my aging when I went to the 7th game of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2019 and while I was bummed we lost, I wasn’t despondent as I might have been 5 or 10 years before. They always come back and play again the next year.
Music: This one might feel like a surprise to you, it even felt like a shock to me when I stepped back and thought about it. But to explain this, I’d have to go all the way back to high school, when I was so intent on finding great music beyond the radio, then to college as a DJ at WKSR, then to the music business after college, then running my own record label, being out seeing bands 3-4 nights a week sometimes. You can see that fabric of music wound it’s way through my life in a big way. I remmeber one time saying to someone “I will never stop going to clubs and seeing live music for as long as I can stand up.” It was MY LIFE and I could not imagine it any other way, ever. Well, age has changed that. I still love love love music, and I still enjoy finding new bands to listen to. I still sing and play air instruments in the car. Like, loud. But to get me out to see a live show, well, I have to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it will be a trmendous show. Choose my battles! Case in point, Leo and I will be seeing this in a few weeks. Let’s get after it!
Emotion: I was definitely more closed up in my younger years emotionally. I think showing any kind of emotion was some kind of mental block for me and I put up a defense of sorts by either just ignoring the glaring issue at hand or “toughing it out.” I think I need to explore all that seperately – it’s not something I’ve entirely figured out yet. However, I’ve definitely gotten softer emotionally with age. I tear up at movies and TV shows, never did that before! I get emotional driving around my hometown and thinking about way back when. But today I think I’m more emotionally “open” than I was even 5-10 years ago with people who are close to me. I think there’s a few factors here – watching my kids grow up is enlightening, but very emotional. I think the process of having kids and the notion of generations passing by has really given me perspective. My friendship with Dave and Leo (record label pals) is so open, honest, funny, satisfying and comfortable. And of course, the longer I”m married to my wife, the more comfortable I am in my own skin. I’m very much an introvert, large groups take a lot out of me and I’m very different, maybe even a little awkward in those settings, but all those people I mention above know a very different person – and maybe a bit of a changed person. This change is very satisying for me. I am ugly crying right now just typing this, in fact. I’m kidding, that’s a joke. I’m still a dork, too, you know.