Tuesday, Oct 16, 2018
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Kirk Baird

CULTURE SHOCK

50 years to learn and to wise up

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There’s a line in Romeo and Juliet I’ve been ruminating on recently.

It’s from Lord Capulet, Juliet’s father, who is throwing a party for guests but tells his cousin to sit with him and relax while the kids have their fun.

“For you and I are past our dancing days,” he says.

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I’ve never been a dancer. And even turning 50 next week, I don’t feel past my days.

Age is a state of mind, we’re told.

My mind tells me I’m in my 20s, but it’s my snowy-white hair — what remains of it, at least — that says something entirely different to everyone else, much like wearing a loud suit to a funeral.

But I’m just old enough to no longer care.

That’s likely part of being middle-aged, a time when you’re close enough to the cliff’s edge that you can see the bottom and you begin to think about that inevitable tumble downward.

It’s a strange place to be, really, at the half-century mark.

I suspect it’s the same for most of us in the vanguard of Generation X.

We are old enough to watch our heroes vanish and the voices of our generation hang on as nostalgia acts.

We’re young enough that our friends will join us in the 50-and-older club. And old enough that perhaps a friend or two won’t.

We’re old enough that those things we questioned in our youth we now accept in middle-age, as our healthy skepticism is replaced by weathered cynicism.

We’re old enough that those landmarks and benchmarks that were everything to us, are now nothing to others, as once-blazed trails have been swept away and forgotten. Popular culture is many things to many people, but for all it is ephemeral.

We’re old enough that we’re no longer so optimistic the world will be everything it can be, but not so pessimistic to give up the fight to make the world everything it should be.

We’re too young to have lived through the great wars, but old enough to have lived through those wars that few would call great.

We’re old enough to have lived through many new-and-improved cycles of consumer products, and wise enough to know there isn’t much difference between them.

We’re old enough to have watched mankind first walk on the moon, but too young to remember it.

We’re old enough to have lived through the space age, the nuclear age, the computer age, the communication age, and young enough to wonder where the digital revolution will take us.

We’re old enough to remember a time before video games, when no one had a computer at home, and the Internet was something from a science-fiction novel. Yet we’re young enough to to know we wouldn’t want to live without it.

We’re old enough to have watched good leaders make bad mistakes and for bad leaders to repeat them.

We’re old enough that we should be preparing for our inevitable retirement, and young enough that we still feel like we have enough time.

We’re old enough to know that the world isn’t what you make of it, but how you play it, and young enough that we’re still in the game.

We’re old enough to know failure, but young enough that it doesn’t define us.

We’re old enough to know heartache, but young enough to have moved on.

We’re old enough to know death, but young enough that it doesn’t frighten us.

We are also young enough to know there are plenty of dancing days ahead for us, but old enough to know it’s best to sit this one out.

Contact Kirk Baird at: kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.

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