Sunday, March 08, 2009

32 IS THE NEW 27

30 was the new 20 a couple years back, but life is hard these days. The economy sucks and there's nothing but bad news everywhere you turn. Looks like that gap closed a bit over the last couple of years.

This man and I share the same name (first and last). He's a plumber in Northern California with 6 years of experience and apparently goes by the nickname "Morphine." In his case, 32 might be the new 48.

Another year down. Not really unlike the last one, really. My mother even still put JEFF IS 31 on my birthday cake. Guess I'm turning back to the clock in her eyes too...or at least managing to pause Father Time like Zack Morris.

I was listening to Tribe's Low End Theory last night and caught myself thinking back to when I was in grade school with my Sony headphones (always under the ballcap so that it created a "noise-cancellation" effect and no outside noise could make it in--not even the constant wind of West Texas). Those moments of nostalgia are a blessing to me. It's like Uncle Rico or Andrew Dice Clay doing everything they can to relive their youth. I suppose it's how I keep in touch with that stupid kid in me that insists he knows everything and, one day, that red carpet's gonna be rolled out for me and it'll lead right into my mansion on the hill. That mansion on the hill is now a three-bedroom abode in the Texas Panhandle. I have neighbors I hate and my Porsche looks more like a Honda Civic, but lemme tell ya, it's paid off. You realize from the years between 14 and, say, 30 the differences between fantasy and reality. You ain't the greatest hitter in the history of the game. Your improv skills are weak and your fingers ain't as fast as the next cat. You ain't no rapper. You ain't as good. You ain't as dedicated. You ain't as smart. You ain't as creative. And you ain't as funny. Everyone of those realizations is another diversion of the path and the quicker you arrive at them, the less painful growing up is. I couldn't be happier with where I am today. I have a lovely wife that loves me and I adore her. I have a family that I'm incredibly proud of. I have a job that I still have zeal for and I have my health.

I've discovered, though, that as the years go by, the ages between 30-40 is really just intended to throw your dreams and ambitions off course. It's like that weird middle ground. You just took your dose of reality, but you still have those fantasies that kinda dance around in your head when you're not thinking of anything else. You know you're too old to be "The Real World", but you still have that dream of standing up there at the podium shaking that Oscar in the air for the screenplay you wrote for the greatest zombie movie ever. You sit there asking yourself, is it okay if I listen to Mobb Deep? Is it okay if I still watch C.O.P.S.? Is it okay if I wear my sideburns thick and wooly? Is it okay if I still dream of playing harmonica in a blues band? Yes, it's okay. It's totally okay. It'll be the only thing when your hair completely disappears and you can't sing anything but the bass parts that'll keep you young.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not scared of growing old. I just never want to be told, "You can't do that anymore." Not that I want or need to do all the things I used to every hour, everyday. I just don't want to be told I can't. It's a stubbornness I'm learning to live with. When my grandfater died this last year, he died with the dream of one day owning some property in a remote area of Colorado where he'd build a cabin next to a stream and surround himself with old pianos. He'd fish and play piano all day while growing all of his foods in a garden down by the creek. That vision, I'm convinced, probably kept him going for a good five years as his health declined.

Never stop.

This year, I dealt with losing my first childhood friend to natural causes...if you consider cancer "natural." That's rough. We're passing away now. I suppose that when you realize that you can die from natural causes, it restructures a bit of your existence here on this earth. There's enough you can die from unnaturally that, to now worry about natural death, complicates things. Greatly. I don't dwell on it, but it does put things in perspective.

I know I'll get old, but I'm working on making it tolerable. Here's how I plan on doing it. Listen to your Funkadelic, your Sly and Family Stone and your De La Soul. Jog. Jogging is the rawest form of cardio and there's something fantastically contemplative that happens on jogs. Keep riding a bike. You don't have to do it daily, but always know how to do it. You'll be teaching a kid how to one day and, you never know, if there's a zombie infestation, it might mean your life. Let the grey hair come on in. There's nothing you can really do about it except give some company your hard-earned cash for a quick fix that only bandaids the true emotional turmoil with going grey. Deal with it. It's much easier. While there's no fountain of youth, never stop laughing. It keeps the blood flowing. Frisbee. Substitute honey for anything that you would add sugar to normally. Only three cups of coffee a day, but make them dark cups. If it doesn't slightly induce the unloading of your colon, it's not dark enough. Stop frowning. Start writing. If you already write, keep it up. It's what will be left behind when you're gone. Stop drinking light beers. Drink pale ales, but no your limits. You ain't in college anymore. Act like it. Never stop learning. Find your source for learning and latch onto it. Watch thunderstorms from the edge of town. Public Enemy's first three records. Sauerkraut. Mow the lawn shirtless. Play a pickup game of basketball. Walk the dogs. Keeping them young will keep you young. Heckle players at a professional baseball game. Just watch your language. Act as a model for kids and know they're always watching. Led Zeppelin. Jump off of something taller than you. Watch a zombie movie. Work your tail off. Eat less chocolate more slowly. If it's within six hours, drive it. Screw the flight. Respect your elders. Listen to them. Like it or not, if you do everything right you'll make be there one day. Vitamin C and plenty of water. Get outside. There's no replacement for fresh air. Who's Next. You're never too old to rock a ballcap, but don't wear it just to cover your balding head. Wear your bald head proudly. Wear your ballcap to prevent burning. Stop buying into the fear the networks sell you. That goes for Oprah too. Hip hoppa'ya don't stop! Take a brisk jog in the winter in wind shorts. Sing loudly. Always know your strongest b-boy pose. Paint, sketch or screen. Do all if you feel compelled. Always get enough sun to tan, but not to burn. There are bad rays. Eat bacon occassionally. Dance like James Brown. And don't fake the funk.

Happy birthday to me.


Carole said...

Yes... Happy Birthday to you!

sarahsmile3 said...

Fabulous. One day, you will be the coolest of all the old men. Not for a long while....but one day.

Dale and I will be there with you, encouraging you to dance for us again.