So it’s officially my birthday now. At 4:53 AM (or maybe 4:58…I always forget the exact minute – a little help, Mom?) I sped past “GO”, collected my $200, and started the journey towards completing another year. If anyone is wondering how I’m feeling about being a “whole year older”, well, pardon my directness, but shut it. I’m no more a whole year older than Tiger Woods is “on the wagon”.
The fact of the matter is that I’m exactly 24 hours older than I was at this time yesterday. Yes, I crossed a milestone point in the very wee hours of the morning today, but it’s not like a set of internal knobs and switches spontaneously all clicked forward to 37. I didn’t wake up this morning with a hankering for a sporty little red car, a spectacular patch of new baldness on the crown of my noggin, or any of the other foolishness that comes with a dude hitting his middle age stride.
That’s not to say that I can’t tell that I’m getting older, but it comes in little reminders here and there. There were years not too long ago when the odds were good I might actually be awake at the specific time in the very wee hours of the morning that marks the anniversary of my birth. I used to play video games routinely until 2 or 3 am (or later if the game was good and I couldn’t pull myself away) while enjoying an adult beverage or two. I would get up a mere handful of hours later at 7:30, non the worse for wear, and head to work, bright-eyed and clear-headed. In contrast, last night, after finishing yesterday’s post, I sat down with a crisp IPA (which poured nicely, but could have used a little more malt, if you ask me) at shortly after midnight. I considered putting 2012 in the DVD player, because I’ve been wanting to watch it for about a week now. But I couldn’t do it, I’m too old now.
I used to give absolutely zero consideration to the hour in which I would start a movie, and even less thought for that film’s running time. At 12:17 AM last night, though, I was standing in my family, disappointed to find that the movie ran 2 hours and 18 minutes, which put it well beyond even the extended there-will-be-a-price-for-this-tomorrow limit of how late I can effectively expect to stay up watching a movie. So I opted instead to watch something I’d DVR’d (yes, it is a verb nowadays) earlier in the week.
At 3:08 AM, I awoke from a sound sleep in my recliner, with two-thirds of the beer remaining in the glass, and the DVR insisting that I respond to whether or not I’d like to delete the episode it apparently finished without me. This, so far, to me, is one of the biggest differences between being 27 and 37. A decade ago, I could easy will myself to stay awake, no matter the circumstance. These days I find I am no longer, strictly speaking, completely in charge of my physical being. Sometimes, it seems, I need sleep and I’m going to have it, in spite of myself if necessary.
But then, I suppose that’s typically the way of it. In one’s youth, your physical form is a tool of your own command. But with age that control wears away, and you become commanded more and more by your physical conditions. Two years ago, I slipped a disc in my cervical spine. Two weeks ago, I tweaked a muscle in my side playing hockey. Every four out of five mornings, it seems, I have to stretch the stiffness out of my back before I get in the shower. Knicks and dings rarely go unnoticed.
If that’s the price, though, for finally knowing now what I really should have known then, well, I’m alright with it. The fact is that one’s age is not a number so much as a state of mind. Yes, I’m 37 now, but everyday I feel very much the same as the sarcastic guy that loved life 10 years ago. I’m guessing that as long I never let that slip away, that I keep my skates going and don’t stop moving, I’ll be doing just fine, whether I’m 47, 77, or 36 and 366 days old.