Expectations of the Aging

I never ever thought I'd get excited by ordering from the 55+ menu in a diner. It just seemed like a feeble thing to do. It is not a feeble thing to do. It is the only meal anyone will ever order that is portion correct and priced correctly. I'm surprised the age limit hasn't been raised as the retirement age has advanced. You won't hear me complain.

 



Age. As a young adult in the prime of her working years, age was “the now.” I always thought of retirement as a thing so far in the future that I could screw up multiple times and still be ok when the golden day came. Now that I'm creeping closer to the finish line, I will say it feels like I got here by warp speed. I didn't follow a dogged path to retirement. I tried many different things, and I learned that I could squeak by on very little money if I needed to - at least until I couldn't. Then I'd abandon my dreams and head back to corporate America. This makes for a very unpredictable income average as Social Security determines my monthly income; once I'm old enough to receive it. No one can live off of social security alone, or should I say, no one lives large off of social security alone. With the decline of pensions, and the rise of the 401k, etc., social security may be the biggest monthly check many people receive in America.

The previous paragraph seems to instruct young workers to stick to a responsible path so that their old age is golden and not some cheap alloy. But now that I'm here, I don't really think I would change anything. 

Well… maybe I would.

I would have waited tables and worked in the theater as an actor and playwright in my mid-twenties. I would have performed in bands and as a singer/songwriter in tandem. I would be dirt poor, and probably my mother's worst nightmare, but I would be 100%, unapologetically me. 

I didn't figure this out until I was in my late 30s. After years of soul crushing management and advisory jobs, I wanted to flex my spirit. I recorded an album, and I took to the road to sell my songs and my CD. $45 a day kept the the tour rolling. That seems crazy today. But it worked because there was no “stuff.” No shit to show off. No impressions to make to upwardly mobile thirtysomethings. In fact, what I heard often was, “I wish I had your courage.”

Needless to say, at some point, it became unsustainable, and I went back to the “office.” Where I messed up was that I took my previous office mentality with me. I let the unique and creative piece of me slip under a heavy blanket of judgement that I didn't deserve. There's a balance, and most of us don't believe we can maintain it. And maybe that was true.

I say “was true” because I think that's changing. I really don't know if it's the obvious DGAF of aging or if the world is changing because we let machines replace us. We lost our connection to each other. Our humanity. As we move into advanced age, it can become lonely as our friends and loved ones die. Our children move on, and we can find ourselves helpless and alone. 

I think the expectations of the aging are simple. 
Look people in the eyes when you listen.
Smile.
Tell an off color joke to your grandmother.
Ask your dad to dance.
Have long and leisurely conversations.
Read a book made of paper; not electrical magic behind a seven inch screen.
Don't forget about people you used to care about.
Share your experiences.
Grow your talents.
Don't give a shit what the world thinks of you.
Be a unique gift to society.
Be proud of your accomplishments.
Be proud of your life regardless of how much money you made.
Know you'll understand that stuff has very little value, but relationships should be guarded closely.
Teach wisdom - love, acceptance, openness, kindness, loyalty, forgiveness, understanding…
Don't teach “how to become a millionaire.”
Don't be ashamed of your past.
Make friends who shop at Neiman Marcus.
Make friends who shop at Dollar General.
Try on shoes from both stores.
Inspire the kind of change that boosts humanity to the mythological status of a happy ending.
(This list could go on, and I hope you're adding to it as your read this.)

Also, act your age and order from the 55+ menu at Denny's. You will have earned it when you get there.
 

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