There is an old saying attributed to Mickey Mantle: “If I’d have known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself.” One of the surprises of aging is that we don’t feel like we thought people our age would.
I turned 61 recently. A mere pup by some standards. Less than nine dog years. There are, though, those signs I am not young anymore.
The boys I sired are on each side of 30.
My remaining hair is more gray than not. I wear hearing aids and bifocals.
Sometimes I struggle to remember from what part of my life I know someone.
Occasionally I speak of someone who has been dead for a decade as if I saw them last weekend.
I couldn’t name any of the top 10 pop songs today.
When Paul, John, George and Ringo (The Beatles to you kids) sang “When I’m Sixty-four,” it seemed a number just short of infinity. Now Paul’s 64th birthday is nearly a decade in the past.
Despite the occasional aches of a six-decade-old surgically repaired back, there are a lot of things I like about being older, I mean more mature.
I have more long-term perspective. Many things that were important enough to argue about I can now see both sides of.
Having been proven wrong, I am more open to other people’s opinions. They may, in the end, be right.
I care less about winning and more about participating.
Spending time with people I love, and long time friends, makes me smile longer.
When I take a walk I look more attentively at my surroundings.
Hugs and kisses seem sweeter.
I live in the moment better than when I was young, knowing some things I may be doing for the last time.
The small stuff gets sweated less often.
Instead of day dreaming about being elected President or making a lot of money I day dream about Strandhill No. 13 (my favorite golf hole in the world) and a lazy, trout-filled stream; of playing “Find Pa” with my grandkids, watching my sons play hockey together, and sitting on the deck with my wife in quiet, content conversation.
In middle age I don’t want to be powerful. I want to be kind, gentle and life smart. Finding a consensus seems more important than winning an argument.
Experience has shown me that any two people can find something in common within five minutes if they try. Each of us have more in common with others than I thought when I was young.
Growing older, I am less tolerant of jokes at someone’s expense, unamused by sexist, ageist, racist or dirty comments. On the other hand, I get more pleasure out of a belly laugh.
In the end, would I want to be a kid again? Nope. Being old, I mean mature, is just fine with me.
— Jeff Tolman is a lawyer in Poulsbo and a periodic Herald columnist.