About when I was right at age 40, I over heard a lady I respect saying that her 40s had been very productive. I took her words to heart and went ahead and tried having a very productive fourth decade.
Grading myself, I'd jot a B+ for living a productive 40s. No, A- actually, yup, dang productive 40s I had. The only thing I'd say I lacked for was in working to create intimacy with a mate, which has never been a priority-yet even so, that's why the minus.
In five days I crown 50 and tilt over on to begin my 51st year. A year late, but today I asked a feller I know casually from the gym what advise he'd give a feller who is freshly part of the 50-year-old club. I assumed he was nearing, if not already 60.
He turned and said he was 61, in such a way as to assure me he was qualified to share his opinion.
"Well," he said smiling, "just keep doing things that are the right things to be doing."
Hoping he had the goods to be a bit more specific, I urged him on. "In terms of?"
"Taking care of yourself. Keep doing it, to a greater degree, every day, without fail. Exercise, eat the right things, and rest," he said, his smile still broad.
I was hoping his suggestions might be a bit more cosmic, deep, esoteric, much further reaching; instead his advise was basic, based solely on physical health; and in so being, he was preaching to the choir. I can do basic physical health.
But of course he'd think I was itching for a health answer, we were in a gym after all. Should I have expected him to promote rules of finance or morality as we sat lacing our sneaks? Course not. And besides, at 50 (as it is anytime, but most don't realize it till we're about 50), life is simply about survival; and if we realize we're lucky to reach 50, and we hope to get to be more than 50, we better ratchet up our self care program because at 50, there's no more clay being added to the sculpture, all the clay at 50 is being chipped away. From 50 on, protecting your atrophying body of clay demands heightened commitment, rooted through daily attention - and if you think fulfilling what the last sentence suggests is a handful, you're right.
The things we need to do that are necessary to our survival haven't changed since cave people days. Eat, rest, and go to the bathroom. Whatever else you want to include is extra stuff, some of it interesting (see intimacy) but all of it not necessary.
For instance; What would happen if there was no more sports coverage of any kind. No T.V., print, radio or Internet offerings of banal sports events from which so many use to pass life's precious hours? No more "Sunday Night Football", no World Series or local school sports, no more biannual Olympics. What would happen if sports as business stopped dead?
Nothing. We'd go along fine. But mister, get a good solid dose of heart disease and you're effed.
Keep your heart healthy. Turn off the chatterbox.
So here I am-50s-ready and willing to ramp up all things that will help preserve the me that was productive in my forties, was finding my way in my thirties, was still believing in Santa in my 20, was randy to an overwhelmingly painful degree in my teens, and was totally dependent on my folks in my single digits. Here I am in my 50s. Watch your ass. I'm gonna buss you up.
Rusty DeWees tours Vermont and Northern New York with his act "The Logger." His column appears weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com. Listen for The Logger, Rusty DeWees, Thursdays at 7:40 on the Big Station, 98.9 WOKO