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How Do You Know When You're Middle Age?
03-20-09

I'm going to put an ad in the Northwestern's LOST & FOUND column to find out where 2008 went. I don't know. I don't know when years started to have only eight months. It must have been when hours started to have only forty minutes. What I do know is that all of us will have something in common in 2009, no matter how fast the year passes. We will all be a year older. I, like everyone else, want to live healthfully and happily to a very old age; but presently I'm dealing with middle age.

According to statistics, the average life expectancy is now 77.6, which means middle age would be 38.8 The dictionary is more generous. Using the euphemism "adulthood", it defines this time as the years between 40 and 65. Of course, with 50 being the new 40 and 70 being the new 50, who knows anymore. My personal definition is 10 years older than I am.

However, we can't fool ourselves. We know when we're "mature", which is another one of the dictionary's euphemisms. It's when we start fighting the signs of aging. We diet, exercise and dye our hair. Men stop tucking their shirts in and women pray for sack dresses to come back into style.

A man knows he's "no longer young" when the weight of the world falls from his shoulders to his love handles. For women it falls to their hips. It's the time in our lives when the only thing we don't have trouble hearing is our bones creaking when we stand up. It's the time when fortune tellers read the lines in our faces instead of the lines in our palms. It's when men start hoping that jogging their memories counts as exercise and women are tempted to mix fabric softener with face cream to get rid of wrinkles.

But let's look on the bright side. Yes, there is a bright side. With middle age comes the wisdom and experience which helps us to better understand the world. Of course, being better able to understand the world is Mother Nature's way of compensating us for not being able to see the world without glasses.

When I was a teenager, I thought middle age was old. Now I think teenagers are too young to know what it is. Now I don't think it's old. I think it's just older. In fact, because I'm going to be a day older tomorrow, I'm going to enjoy being a younger man today.

 

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