Who is that?
By John R. Greenwood
It sneaks up on you slow, like an attack-snail. You're in your late twenties and your friends ask you to play softball. You dig your glove out of a plastic bin in the back of the garage. You show up and play nine innings like there was a scout from the Yankee's sitting in the bleachers with a clipboard. You wake up the next morning and fall to the floor with leg cramps so bad you have tears in your eyes. You blame it on being out of shape.
Now it's your early thirties and you drop your toothbrush in the toilet when you spot that first grey hair. You panic and call your wife to come and verify. She smiles lovingly and says it's no big deal there's only one or two.
You break the forty barrier in waist and age. You swear off junk food and join the Y. You try keeping up but the Ibuprofen in your gym bag rats you out. You lose a few pounds and convince yourself 38's aren't so bad and 36's are only a salad away. You surrender to games of one-on-one with the guy in the sweat suit and headband who shoots with two hands and wears velcro sneaks from Payless. You win by 6 in a game to 11. Your mind hears a crowd roar, then realize it's really a busload of After School Programers swarming the court. You hit the showers and stop for pizza on the way home.
Fifty is not so gentle. Fifty hits you like a twenty-five year old Tyson. Thirty-seconds into the first round you're flat on your back mumbling WTF happened? You come home to AARP mailings overflowing your mailbox. There are messages on your answering machine reminding you of your colonoscopy on the 5th, and your cataract surgery on the 15th. The smirky little turd at the drive-thru gives you the senior discount in hopes of a bigger tip. Here's a tip, "You should have stayed in school."
You get grumpier by the day (which end at 8pm). Your hair looks like the fuzz on a Mohair sweater. You're pissed at the world because it won't slow down.
But I have to tell you, there is something to be said about looking at the tail end of fifty. I have never been so confident, happy, satisfied, or content. I have learned more in the last five years than I did in fifteen years in school and twenty plus years earning calluses. Life is what you make of it. Don't blame others for your shortfalls. If you want something bad enough, then go get it. Sometimes luck finds you and hands you a gift. Embrace it if it does, but if it doesn't, then embrace what you do have and remember that there is always someone else out there who has it worse.
So look deep into that mirror. You may not feel like doing cartwheels over the airport runway on your forehead but if there is a still a little twinkle in the eyes staring back at you, consider yourself better off than a Tyrantosauras because I'm pretty sure they're extinct.