When my friend, and photographer extraordinaire, Jeff Turner took this shot at the Arizona Association of Realtors Conference, I’m not sure what I was thinking.
My first reaction when I saw this image was to say, “That’s my “WTF?” look.” I suspect someone on stage said something that made me think…. “WTF?” Or, perhaps a more simplistic, “Huh?” Who knows. Regardless of what was working in my head at the moment, it’s a great image, as Jeff is prone to producing.
My second thought was, “Damn, I’m getting old.” I showed the picture to my lovely (and slightly older) bride, mentioned looking old and her supportive response was, “Well honey, I hate to tell you….” (In all fairness, she is insanely supportive, all the time.)
Yep, I’m getting old. That’s what happens when you don’t die. You age. Sure, some of us do that more gracefully than others but we all go through the aging process. It’s as inevitable as death and taxes.
Let me tell you, growing old is WAY better than either of those two options.
I’ll be the first to loudly proclaim that 58 is not old. 60 is the new 40, right? When I was doing my retirement planning, our financial advisor planned out until we were 95.
I’ll never live that long
That’s what I muttered under my breath. No need to plan to 95.
But why not? Yep, I have a damaged heart. But despite the heart attack almost seven years ago (time flies when you get old!), the ticker is in great shape–better than ever. Multiple visits to the cardiac catherization lab will certainly motivate one to take better care of the only heart they have.
Some days, the body aches. Multiple knee injuries and the resulting surgeries across my 58 years on the planet have pretty much trashed them. There’s arthritis in my knees, hands, and feet. Don’t even ask about my lower back, it’s a wreck. A couple of months ago I got the eyeglass I’ve needed forever. “Progressive lenses” is the politically correct term for, “old people tri-focals.”
Then last week I got the news that will make you feel old real quick.
I need hearing aids
Yeah, when I got that bit of news, I felt super-old. It also raised a vanity streak that I didn’t know existed. I hated the idea of having to wear hearing aids. They’re a pain in the ass, and they make you look old. Or so I thought.
But hearing is a good thing. Like most with slow, age-related hearing loss, I didn’t realize how bad my hearing was until I got some help.
Let me tell you, the world is full of sound! Glorious sound. Music sounds better than I can ever remember it sounding, and I love everything about listening to music.
In a somewhat ironic twist of fate, it may be that love of music that accelerated my hearing loss. When I initially met with my audiologist, the first thing she said to me was, “Born in 1960. So you were a teenager in the 70’s. Did you listen to loud music?”
“Loud enough to knock the plaster off the walls,” I replied.
“Pretty much all the time…”
Back in those days, we also slathered baby oil on ourselves when we went to the beach, all for the love of that deep, skin cancer causing, savage tan.
We rode in the back of pick up trucks too. And drank right out of garden hoses. Played lawn darts into the night with no parental supervision. Bicycle helmets? They weren’t even invented.
It’s a wonder we survived.
A week or so after being fitted for my hearing aids, I had an epiphany of sorts. In the middle of feeling all sorry for myself–for the god-awful sin of needing hearing aids–it just hit me.
“This is stupid.”
Hearing aids don’t make me a lesser human. And who really cares if there’s a barely visible wire running into my ear? The bulk of the devices are hidden behind my ever-graying hair (hey, where do you think my nickname, The Silver Fox, comes from?)
Not me, not any more.
You know what’s cool?
Being able to hear the conversation from across the table in a crowded, loud, restaurant.
Being able to hear my wife whisper, “I love you.”
Being able to hear all the birds, and every wave hitting the beach.
Being able to stream my Spotify playlist into my hearing aids, and the music sounds AMAZING (for the price of these little bastards, they better sound good). I’ve got a killer set of headphones on, all the time.
I can even use the iPhone app to target the direction of sound I need to focus on.
Yes, hearing aids have an app.
So wallowing in self-pity and vanity for a week or so was an utter waste of time and energy. No one has time for that nonsense.
Getting old is nothing to be ashamed of. Quite the opposite, in fact. Life is grand. I have an amazing wife, wonderful “children,” I love where I live and going to “my beach” every day. There’s a lot to love about life and living.
Worrying about how I look, or what people might think, because of something as irrelevant as hearing aids really is stupid.
And believe me, there’s a long list of stupid things I’ve done.
Getting old shouldn’t be on that list.
Having someone special to grow old with is amazing. Aches, pains, scars, and hearing aids come with the territory.
Rather than flounder about in the throes of a self-pity fit, try embracing all life has to offer. Revel in growing old. It’s really quite glorious.
So go out there, and do you. Live, laugh, love.