I’m not a young man anymore.
Not that I am ready to roll over and die just yet, though. I have made an effort to go to the gym every weekday, to keep the gray at bay. I try to be engaged with the social media, though it seems there is one school of thought that finds it quiaint or even mildly annoying that ‘old people’ use it for anything other than report comings and goings to restaurants and starbucks coffee. And at an age now, very comfortable with married life, I have joined the ranks of the over-forty somethings, who sport graying beards and staccato hair, Costco -fashion shorts and company polo shirts. Fashion -sense is for the young, unmarried folks. But then in my workplace, the ones who write all the code or hunch over benches testing devices shuffle about in flip-flops – while the managers who are attired in the unusual button down shirt and slacks, must have customers onsite that day.
As for conversations, my peers discuss aches, colds, college-bound kids, and who will bring the bagels on Friday. In contrast, younger men and women are planning a weekly competitive match-up, a vacation destination, or some activity, and the young marrieds have to hustle home for either toddler duty, a parent-teacher meeting, or a youth sporting event.
When my colleagues stop by my office or we have a chat in the hallway to and from the break room, I can find myself in a conversation with another former navy Chief, one of the facilities workers, a former manager, or my co-worker D_ with whom we’ve been label the twin sons of different mothers for our penchant to be loud, amusing, and equally diligent on our search for the left-over snacks or catered lunch remains in the lunch-room.
Today one of the female engineers on my former project stopped by to see how my kids and spouse were doing – she commented before on the yellow sticky note that still covers a picture of my son- and his now-ex fiancee. How the fund-raising was going for the walkathon Sheri was participating in. And to chat about clutter in our respective offices.
I can chatter about anything technical, social, or political. Conversation is an art of listening to others though. So glad I didn’t go off on one of my routine political rants that my generation is so fond of doing. The 70s altered the consciousness of the country, the 80s was all about money and success, the 90s for social mores, and since 2000, the loss of national identity.
But one thing that 50 years provides, is some measure of perspective. It really is going to be chaotic for the next several decades, but then every generation has faced a paradigm shift in what is important. I know that in another fifty years, the over-forty crowd will still be talking about kids, colds, and finances, the youth will still be planning whats in and whats out, and the politicians will still be singing the same tunes …. perhaps though from life-size holographic, personalized projections.