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finding the line between young and old
read at your own risk, because once you get it, you might know you're old, too
by jeffrey d. walker
9.14.12
humor

It is an undeniable truth harbored by the young: getting old is not cool! “I don’t want to grow up” is more than just a slogan for “Toys ‘R’ Us”; young people tend to believe that old people are generally boring, and do boring things, and talk about boring stuff. And most any kid, even if they love their parents and grandparents, both fear and loathe the idea of becoming old themselves.

Of course, kids desire all of the stuff that comes with being grown up, like having their own place, the ability to drive, income, and beer. That stuff is pretty cool, but actually becoming older is not. Because being old is. not. cool.

At least, that's what young people would say. It's nice to know now what idiots kids are. As I approach my 38th birthday later this year, I can see, feel, and hear old cramping up my youthful style. Let’s review a few examples:

(1) I used to know all the modern Pop and Rock acts, but if I look at the Billboard “Top 10” songs for the week these days, I’ll be lucky to recognize any 3 artists thereon;

(2) If I actually delve farther and “You-Tube” those Billboard songs, there's a 95.7% that I'm going to think anyone I had never heard of before are subpar BS, and further feel embarrassed for the subpar BS produced by the scattering of artists I recognized in the first place;

(3) I used to drive sports cars, and get speeding tickets like every six-months (if not more often, like the time I got 2 within a 30 minute period while trying to get through Virginia back in 2000), but now, I drive a station wagon (“estate car” for the British folks), with the cruise control set a mere 5 to 9 MPH over the posted limit, even in town, just to avoid the hassle of police; and most dramatically for my life,

(4) From when I took my first job at the front desk of a dry cleaners in roughly 1991, through until as recently as 2011, in my job as a lawyer, I was secretly dreaming that one day I’d be able to give all of that up and go on tour with some great rock & roll band because I would have FINALLY landed a lucrative recording contract. And today, even if against all odds a record contract were presented to me, I’d probably not sign it.

That last point was particularly difficult for me to accept, and in fact, I’ve been on sort of an emotional / anxiety riddled roller coaster the past few months, quite possibly the last couple of years, all in trying to figure out what giving up the rock dream meant about me. And more particularly, the young me vs. the old me.

But I got through it finally. And the best part, I was able to discover the precise moment at which one crosses from young to old. I'll even tell you, but you have to live through my process first.

The young me believed that my life was a series of events I was participating in until my new and “real” life of being a rock star started. Not that I was merely going through the motions of life before without thought, or without respect for myself or others; however, I truly did believed that as long as I persisted in my art, I would eventually find my way into a real band that really worked, and that I would then begin my actual “life”.

But by 2011, when I stopped gigging professionally, the dream had faded dramatically. Not all at once, but diminished with each band I played in that didn’t fulfill the prophecy. Each failed attempt made the dream seem more remote.

I want to note here, so no one gets me wrong, that I’m not sad about how my life has come out in reality. I have a great wife and kid, a nice house and good pets, and good friends, and a good boss. There is nothing about my life as it exists that I would change. In fact, had the “dream” of rock life ever come to pass, I did not plan on suddenly ditching my wife or my pets and friends; these would have been staples I carried with me into the next phase, while merely throwing the “day job” into the trash. And at least in my early years, this was destined to occur.

It still could happen, I suppose. But I pretty much quit trying. And, after much ado, decided that I finally and officially quit caring about not trying. And that is when I knew I was old. Officially.

And if you either can’t wade back through my psychobabble to figure out the line, or if you are skimming in search of the litmus test on if you’re old or not, you’re almost there.

Old isn’t turning a particular age. Old isn’t grey hair, or losing teeth. The turning point, I have deduced, occurs as soon as one accepts life as it is, and ceases striving to change their world. Once you can swallow that pill, you’re officially ready for your La-Z-Boy and AARP subscription.

Of course, I got a lot of good years before I crossed the line. I know a few people who were old by like 18. So, I’m not really that bitter.

Heck, now I can relax and just watch my kid grow up, because I don’t really feel like I have anything to prove anymore. It’s actually a relief. Now I can just concentrate on being snarky and mocking people who really think that they are going to get what they want.

And get off my lawn.


ABOUT JEFFREY D. WALKER

A practicing attorney and semi-professional musician, Walker writes for his own amusement, for the sake of opinion, to garner a couple of laughs, and to perhaps provoke a question or two, but otherwise, he doesn't think it'll amount to much.

more about jeffrey d. walker

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