October 12, 2013

I remember a line from Pink Floyd’s drummer Nick Mason back in the late ’70s in response to criticism from punk journalists about the band being a bunch of dinosaurs, their massive tours rumbling around the globe, saying something to the effect, “well, you wouldn’t want a whole world filled with dinosaurs, but it’s nice to have a few of them still around.”

So it is with me as I turn the ripe old age of 58. I may be a dinosaur, but I’m a happy dinosaur and happy being a dinosaur. Maybe for some people the thought of almost turning 60 is cause for alarm – you know, leave the house and wife, drop out of your place in life, buy a red Mustang convertible and embark on a new adventure with some hot 20-something while you still have your health and wits about you.

I don’t feel that way – in fact, I think I’m happier now than I’ve been in years. I look around me and see all the things most people take for granted. I have a good job, live in a nice sub-division in a house I never once thought I’d ever own complete with a backyard tiki bar, palm trees, and a swimming pool. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to shovel snow, scrape ice off my windshield, and have to warm up the car on a sub-zero morning. While I can’t say I’ve traveled the world, I’ve been to places like Mexico, Hawaii, New Orleans, the Caribbean and Bermuda. I’ve been on a dozen cruises and would love to again if we can ever get the damned debt down. Most importantly, I have a roof over my head, food to eat, and clean water to drink at the turn of a faucet. With the exception of a missing prostate, I’ve always been in good health. I was raised by wonderful parents and an extended family who gave me the gifts of their example and the awareness of taste, class, and appreciation are all about.

Sure, I’ve had my share of disappointments and dreams dashed – some of which took more than a few years to get over – but hasn’t everyone? No one is meant to have or achieve all of their dreams, it’s God’s way of humbling us and directing us to seek the more simple and accessible things in life available to anyone. I still get stoked watching a thunderstorm approach and sitting on a rock or on a beach watching the ocean do its thing, or listening to the sound of the breeze rusting palm branches, or walking through wooded areas after the leaves have come down. I still quietly thrill at retro Cuban music played under pineapple lights, trash-talking with the Goodboys during a round of golf, the site and aromas of Italian food in a Boston North End restaurant, a Johnny Walker Red nitecap under a silvery moon after a hard day at work when the rest of the world is fast asleep, walking into Wynn Las Vegas at the start of a Sin City weekend, opening a book for the first time, or taking a leisurely walk around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights.

No one knows what the future may bring, and I’m certainly at that age where stuff can start happening, and fast. But I hope as long as I live I’ll always be able to enjoy the music that brings me joy – the Sandals, the Beach Boys, tropical music, Exotica, classical during the fall, surf during the spring and summer. As long as there’s a Mexican restaurant and a credit card in my vicinity, how can life be bad? As I get older, I find myself seeking God in different and more varied places than a church, and while I still get to Mass once or twice a month and will die an Anglo-Catholic who feels just as welcome in an Episcopal or Anglican church as anywhere else, having my prayer candle lit once a week and praying for a world I think is a lost cause is religion enough for me.

And another reason why it’s so great to be 58 – at my age you leave it to the younger folks to pick up what my generation of Baby Boomers has screwed up so badly. I feel bad for young people growing up in this media-saturated, socially-networked age. I have a much lower tolerance for drama caused by people who exploit others, lie, cheat, and play head games. And that goes for most, if not all politicians. I’m accused of being harsh when I tell it like it is, but I’ve kind of had it with the whole idea of “fairness” and “leveling the playing field”, and all that other liberal bullshit expounded by hypocrites who would blanch at the very thought of having to give up their achieved wealth and privilege for those who haven’t done a thing and won’t lift a finger to deserve or be grateful for it.

But that’s the kind of thing you can say when you’re 58. I am who I am. I try to treat others as I would like to be treated myself, am not afraid to stand on principle, but I’m not dying in some foxhole or rail at the barricades for someone else’s cause. I’ll just keep working hard, try and pay down our debt, feed and care for the rabbits when they’re demanding to be fed, putter around the backyard, work even harder (elbow aside) to lower my handicap to shoot bogey golf in 2014, and never tire of Hemingway daiquiris sipped to Jimmy Buffet music. I don’t deserve any of this but I’ve worked damned hard to achieve it. I know I have it better than probably 90% of the world’s population, but I’m not turning it down, either.

There’s a saying in the surf culture, “Get it while you can, kid.” because you know the wave you let pass by will never be experienced again. Change that to, “Appreciate it while you can, Great White Shank”, and that about sums it all up as a dinosaur looks at 58.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:17 | Comments (2)
2 Comments »
  1. From someone who passed up 58, 7 1/2 years ago and is looking at the finish line to start collecting Social Security (not that it feels very “secure” at the moment), all I can say is that I have mellowed with age and am enjoying the more peaceful and quiet moments. It is good to live a more slowed down pace and notice all that is….it is the difference between driving 70 on the interstate and walking around the neighborhood…I love the latter option.

    Comment by jana — October 12, 2013 @ 6:45 am


  2. I’m with you Jana. Gonna try and Skype with you Thursday PM.

    Comment by The Great White Shank — October 15, 2013 @ 9:10 pm


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