We like to focus on the milestone birthdays in our lives such as 16, 18, 21, 30, 40, the Big 5-0, etc.
For the early ages, we look at them as benchmarks for growing up, and for the later ages, we focus on getting old as dirt. I bucked convention. I never felt older when I was young and I felt younger than I should when I passed 40.
Then 43 hit.
It is a birthday that flies under the radar. It doesn’t have the panache that the ones divisible by 10 do. There aren’t any shapes of party glasses using 43 that you can actually see through. It is even tough to come up with a catchy rhyme like the “Lordy, Lordy, Scott is forty” crowd chanted.
But this one hit me like a ton of bricks.
I used to brag about my fantastic eyesight. Now I’m squinting at things like the kid in the back of the room struggling to make out what’s on the chalkboard – excuse me, whiteboard. I used to brag that I had been within 10 pounds of my weight since college graduation. Now, I don’t even think I can brag that I’m within 10 pounds of my weight since last Halloween.
My forehead has new creases in it and my hair gets sparser and sparser, at least on my head. The nose and ear hair is another story. It’s a jungle in there! Worse yet, I’m starting to realize that things I once could do are getting harder. Taking off the holiday pounds usually just required a few brisk walks and sweating while mowing the grass. Now, I’m running several miles a week, walking several more, sprinting up staircases and I’m still gaining weight! Pretty soon I’m going to break out the rubber suit for the sauna and crank the shower heat up until it starts to scald my thinning skin.
Remember the old “can you pinch an inch” test? I’m venturing into “can you style the mile” territory. My belly fat has become the old college friend who visits you for a week and stays until he finds a job. I’m trying to evict him, but breaking the news to him over a couple of beers just gets him more entrenched.
Snap, Crackle and Pop used to be my breakfast buddies; now they are the noises from my joints every time I get up from the bed or the couch. It seems like I’m going to have to work 10 times as hard with a tank holding 10 times less energy just to maintain a level of fitness that was far from world class to begin with. I think it is fair to call it “village” class.
On the bright side, when I hit the Big 5-0, I’ll take the turning old jokes in stride. I’ll have been there for seven years already.
You can reach Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org to recommend good ear and nose trimmers.