I’m sixty years old. It didn’t seem like a big deal back in August when it happened. Forty was a big deal but not sixty.
A couple of days ago I was talking about aging with Gloria, my son’s mother-in-law and one of the wisest people I know. Specifically, I mentioned that as much as I’ve learned about the craft of radio performance over forty-three years of it, none of the younger people I work with seem to be interested in picking my brain. If I offer a small nugget of hard-won wisdom it seems to fall with a clunk on deaf ears. I believe I’ve occasionally seen a furtive wink, a roll of an eye. I’m pretty sure of it.
Gloria nodded sagely. She understood.
It’s a shame, I continued, that as we age we learn so much but eventually we die and all that knowledge of fact, of wisdom and experience, is lost without ever having been shared and appreciated. Worst of all is the lack of respect that piles on top of the years. Instead of being honored, I lamented, old people in our culture are the butt of jokes.
If brevity is the soul of wit, Gloria is a prophet.
“You’re obsolete,” she said offhandedly. “We all are, people our age.”
She said it as if she had just noticed that my shoe was untied and thought I should know.
I’ve been unemployed since October and this is the third time in three years I’ve been between jobs. Radio is an aging technology, an industry being dismantled. We’re sputtering to an end together.
I’ve had a wonderful career and no regrets. If it’s over that’s fine because I still have plenty of life left in me with wonderful friends like Gloria.
I’ll age gracefully. I’ll be obsolete, except to my family. That’s all that matters.
Sometimes, though, sixty is starting to feel like kind of a big deal.