A growing awareness that we're all 27 on the inside
Thursday, November 3, 2016 10:52 AM
People older than me and no doubt some of my contemporaries are going to laugh at this column.
Over the last few years, I have become aware of a human condition that had not crossed my radar when I was younger. I first noticed it in airports while waiting to board planes.
Perhaps there was a mirror wall next to the boarding area or perhaps lighting was such that the windows acted like a mirror. Whatever the reason, I would look at the reflection of the sea of “cattle” waiting to board.
In the midst of this sea, would be a white-haired man of average height. I would ask myself, “what is he doing traveling with this working crowd?” Then, I would realize it was me! I was the white-haired guy of average height elbowing my way aboard as if I were a hotshot 30-something!
Several years ago, I read somewhere that a survey had been done. The results of this survey were that most adults, regardless of actual age, think of themselves as being about 27 years old. I was probably in my late 40s or early 50s at the time. I accepted that, and thought it was probably true until you got really old, you know, say over 60.
Now I am 66, and I have learned that I still think I am 27. Yes, a few things ache, I have never gotten used to the new lenses they put in my eyes to fix my cataracts (I had been nearsighted all my life and in his infinite wisdom my ophthalmologist thought I should finish out my days farsighted), and my voice has problems, despite two surgeries on my vocal chords. But in my mind, I am still 27.
Perhaps the condition that jolts me into reality more than anything else, however, is the obituaries in The Highland County Press. I don’t have an accurate count (I am sure Joyce Haley Holt does), but I think around a third of my high school class is with us no more.
One way I try to fool myself is this. I call the first 40 years "practice," so now I am only 26 – and I’ll be 27 next year!
My wife and I pull the same joke jointly – both of us were previously married, so we call those our "practice" marriages. In fact, we’ll celebrate our 20th anniversary as wife and husband in early December and plan on going to Key West to mark the occasion – some place I have never been before (her family went there on vacation when she was a child).
Not to worry, we have read up on Key West, and I don’t think there is anything going on there that will surprise us.
I think it is important to think and act your mental age – with the added wisdom of all the experiences you have had. I know my reflexes are slower, so I plan on selling my motorcycle – and I have my eye on a new Mustang GT. Yes, I’ll curse climbing up out of a vehicle so low to the ground and I will look silly with my white hair visible through the driver’s window, but so what.
I recall my parents always wanted things to be like they used to be – always looked in the past. Those of you who read my political columns here will think that I am that way, too.
Perhaps I am politically that way and for a good reason – no one has demonstrably improved the politics and governance of this country that was in place decades ago.
On the other hand, as an engineer, I don’t want to go back to using a slide rule, nor do I want to live in a house without an automatic dishwasher. There are improvements we should all embrace.
So, younger folks, I hope I can persuade you to look at older people in a different way now – before you become an older person and discover what I have discovered for myself.
We are all 27 on the inside.
Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press.