Bill Moyers to retire from broadcasting

40 Versus 62

EDITOR'S NOTE: This was originally published on 27 September 2003, but Time Goes By did not begin regular publishing until the following March. There is little point in this one archive listing for September 2003, so I've stored it here. It is the first entry.

category_bug_journal2.gif I posted this on my fotolog today about turning 40:

I had hardly noticed 30; 40 was the one that horrified me. I spent my entire 39th year boring friends with unfunny jokes about my fear of this impending black day. Then I read the card from Jim that accompanied the 40 perfect tulips I found on my office desk that morning. (The card said, “See how lovely 40 can be?”)

And Yolima asked, "How does 40 compare in retrospect?"

Looking back, I got sucked in by cultural attitudes about hitting 40, and I should not have.

One of the things that’s nice about getting older is that I’ve experienced enough not to be afraid very often anymore. I like that; I like knowing how to handle pretty much anything that comes along. I also like knowing that there aren’t many decisions, beyond putting a gun to your head, that are irrevocable, and that saves a lot of dithering.

There are things too that I don’t need to do anymore. I long ago proved to myself that nothing much happens past midnight except people get drunker and more boring, so I may as well go home early and get a good night’s sleep.

Time was I believed I needed to listen to all the latest music. But popular music really was better from the 1930s through the 1960s, so I haven’t missed anything much worth hearing since I gave up music radio about 25 years ago. And when it is any good, it bubbles up enough that even I become aware of it.

A paradox of getting older is that as I have less time on earth, I don’t feel so rushed. If there is something better to do today, I can clean house tomorrow; the dirt will wait for me. If I don’t get to the movie when it’s in theaters, I can rent the DVD later.

In the US, the biggest problem with getting older is that the culture does everything possible to force us to deny aging, or at the very least to not inflict it on the young. Television and magazines are awash in commercials for wrinkle creams, sexual aids and arthritis treatments. Older people are portrayed in TV and movies as mostly dotty old fools and that irritates me. Age discrimination in the workplace is rampant, and you have not lived until a 25-year old vice president asks in an interview, “And what are your life goals, dear?” American culture is pretty much entirely designed for the under-40 crowd, but that’s a rant for another time.

On my birthday each year, I set aside a little time alone to take stock, see where I’ve been in the past year and where I think I might be going in the next. Always, I have learned new things, grown in some small ways, and am generally more comfortable in my skin than I was the year before.

Best of all, I’ve lost my concern with what I look like. If there were any remnants of that, my fotolog has erased them. As I look back on the old photos to prepare them for the flog, I can remember disliking this photograph, thinking I looked ugly in that one. Now I rather like what I looked like then and only regret that I wasted so much time lamenting that I was not one of the great beauties of the world. I looked just fine – and I still do.

So, Yolima, although I didn't recognize it then, 40 was pretty good, and 62 is even better.

Comments

As a 57-year old woman, I can certainly relate and am very glad you've chosen to create this blog.

I know what you mean about learning some of the truly important life lessons that we couldn't possibly understand at an earlier time.

I just posted about one that really hit home in one of my blogs, Synchronicity a Go-Go, about not giving in to negativity that you may find interesting.

While I enjoy your blog very much, I do have one request. Would you mind changing your font color to the next darkest gray? It would certainly improve contrast and, in turn, readability (ergonomics and usability are two of my "things"). This change would certainly make your blog easier for these old eyes to read!

Thanks for giving life to us older gals, whom so many consider societal throwaways. Not! ;-)

Cheers,
Fontaine

Thanks for taking the pressure off. I'm relentlessly critical of how I look (offset against not being in a close relationship and always blaming my 'looks' for that even though theoretically I know better). I like your writing, simple, real and clear. Thanks... oh I'm 45 by the way

A friend of mine--a friend of a friend--gathers his friends, family, their friends on New Year's Eve for a quiet dinner and slide show of the past year. A core of people have joined him each year for decades, and after they've gone through the happy and the sorrowful and the angry moments of the year, they pull down a carousel (though in a few years they'll be calling up a digital file, I suppose) from 5 years earlier, 10 years earlier, 15 years earlier, and so on, to see how things have changed, and how they have not. Who has left their lives, and who has entered. The host's birthday is New Year's Day, and this is as much as anything his ritual of self-taking. So then, at the end, he pulls down the carousel with his birthday self-portraits, taken in a mirror, beginning thirty some years ago. And watching him change, watching him age before you: It is sublime. Much like following your fotolog, and reading your entries here.

Oddly enough, you posted this on my 40th birthday.

I'm still a little ambiguous as to how I feel about 40. I do, however, feel like "something" is starting right now. I just can't say for sure what.

I'm 29 and I'm really terrified of getting older. I do think that society is far too youth oriented and that people write you off after 30. I hope I can age gracefully and not be one of those plastic surgeried people desperately holding on to youth.

You are so right! Culture versus reality-it all comes clean through the wash that is time and experience. I love what you have to say about aging. I'm 41 and have refused the lie that falsely illumines society's views on aging-[especially for women]and just what beauty is.
It was in my mid-late 30's that I began to really put the person God created ahead of the person I created and wisdom began to kick-in. SOOO much time is wasted worrying about such trivialities as "how to measure up"-at least in my case throughout my life. If young women read the kinds of insights like you have posted here, may they save a few years of turmoil! I must say, as a ray of hope, I've noticed a 'growing-away' from these falsehoods by many of the young women I've been in contact with.
The biggest hurdle to overcome and hard-wire into our psyche.."its not about me"..There is so much MORE to that statement than most people can comprehend, I still remind myself of this ohh, every so often.
Ultimately, we are respondsible for our OWN happiness-no man-[generic term for humans]-has the power to make us happy-[generic for feelings of self-worth, and many other blanks can be filled in here]-UNLESS we ourselves give that power to someone, the choice is ours to make. Now THAT was a real hard one for me to really grasp...
Thank you for your insights Ronnie.
All the best to you,

u4eah...its a state of mind.

very nice pages. It´s wonderful, being here. You do a great job.

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