zzzzzzzHusband. Drummer. Marketing, Sales and Customer Service Specialist. Music and Art Collector. Road Cyclist. Volunteer. Traveler. bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb Amateur Photographer. Media/News/Coffee Junkie. Hockey Fan.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

50 is not the new 40. 50 is the new 50

I turned 50 this past August. My wife, Sandra, also joined the illustrious half century club, along with a number of my closest friends. 50: the birthday that everyone dreads yet must humbly accept (along with reading glasses, or, in my case, progressives).

There are plenty of things to reflect upon, of course, yet perhaps none as remarkable as the rapidity at which the years passed. I recall as a youngster wishing for the days and months to speed up. Summer took forever to relieve school's tedium. If only I had an appreciation then of how fast 600 months actually whizzes by. As they say, be careful what you wish for.

Lately, I have heard 40 described as the new 30 (implying, it seems, 40 being incipiently geriatric), or absurdities like 70 being the new 50. Seriously? Feh. I have news for these 'new age' old age revisionists: 50 is the new 50. Better yet: 50 is a new 50. So act - or rather, accept - your age. This does not mean behaving like an old geezer. Turning 50 does not preclude being cool or seeking out and embracing modern, boundary pushing concepts and cultural experiences. It never did. Sadly, my parent's generation and the one that immediately followed it (i.e. the Ozzie and Harriet era), embraced the rusty concept that attitudes, habits and activities must reform as one gets older to better reflect accepted notions. Why? Because that is what you were supposed to do. Looking back, it seems rather quaint. Today, we cannot imagine quitting the very things from which we derive so much enjoyment just to be considered "age appropriate" by our peers. This makes us very different than previous generations.

So what changed the way many of us Baby Boomer/early Gen Xers choose to live? Look no further than our cultural heroes: the painters, writers, musicians and political game changers, not to mention the events that helped provide context and relevance to their art - and, of course, to our lives. Channeling their messages, it became acceptable for an entire generation to question anything. Especially authority. For those of us born at the tail end of the Baby Boom (+/- 1955-1964), this continued well into the the next decade. The Ramones, Sex Pistols and The Clash leveled their own cultural bazookas in the mid 1970’s, and 35 years on this music remains culturally relevant and very influential. Comparatively, if one was to perform a similar reflection back in 1976 it would focus on the music of Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller and Jimmy Dorsey. I like that music, sure, but the point here is that to the best of my knowledge, Chatanooga Choo Choo was not afflicting the comfortable as did The Sex Pistols' God Save The Queen.

Keith Richards is almost 70. Paul McCartney already is. Age has not diminished their cultural relevance. Indeed, Paul has been rocking alongside the much younger Foo Fighter Dave Grohl and his Sound City project, along with Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks (64), Lee Ving of American hardcore punk legends FEAR (60), and Tom Petty (62). They exemplify a collective mindset that has shifted from unacceptable behaviour for someone of a certain age, to acceptable behaviour for anyone of any age, as long as they find it enjoyable, enriching, and rewarding.

Besides having a much more established and successful career today, I still do all the things I did when I was 25: I play drums live and in the studio with a few bands, buy as much new music as I can, go to live gigs and shows. I go to the gym, ride my road bike and travel. I'm still frustrated by the arthritic thinking of conservative politicians and the intolerance and stupidity of many humans. I marvel at the beauty and expressiveness of art and cannot wait for the next life experience, whatever it may be.

I have no intention of changing my behaviour as I continue to age. Until, of course, my joints and muscles scream uncle. Only then, I suppose, will I take up smoking a pipe and create a wide, flat, bum-sized depression in my favourite chair. I will sit back, close my eyes and drift away, listening to Machine Gun Etiquette by The Damned.

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