I got up the other day and took a good long look at myself in the mirror.
I was shocked and I told my wife it was time for a change.
"Look in the mirror at these lines across my forehead," I said. "Look at the dark circles under my eyes, the double chin, the fat cheeks. I've got to do something about this."
Wife: "You mean you're going to start exercising more, getting more sleep and eating right?"
Me: "No. I'm going to get a new mirror. This one is all distorted. It makes me look some guy in his mid-50s for crying out loud!"
If getting old is all in how you think, how come the guy I think I am looks so old looking back at me in the mirror?
I will soon be 57 years old, but I never think of myself that way. I think of myself as a 25 year old - slim, trim, ready to take on the world.
I guess we all deny aging and continuing to think of ourselves as young. And then along comes a reality check.
Wife: "We're going to Chicago for our nephew Ken's birthday party this weekend."
Me: "Great. It'll be a lot of fun. What birthday is he celebrating?"
Wife: "He'll be 40 years old."
Me: "No! That's impossible. You've miss counted. What happened to the boy we used to cheer at BMX bike races?"
Wife: "He'll be 40."
Me: "But didn't I just celebrated my 40th birthday?"
We can deny aging in ourselves. But when a nephew turns 40, it's hard to keep telling yourself you're only 25.
And it isn't just this nephew whose turning 40. He's just the first.
We have more nephews and nieces coming along and they'll all be turning 40 before long. And then our own kids will turn 40.
Do you see what's happening?
Our children are driving us prematurely into middle age.
I came of age in 1960s. It was the age of eternal youth. Nobody told us that the dawning of Aquarius was going to have a sunset!
Time goes fast and birthdays once every year are too often. I think from now on I'm going to space them out better - you know maybe one birthday for every decade or so.
Happy birthday Ken! I hope you have a great day. And now that you're reached 40, it's time I passed some wisdom to you.
Don't feel old. You're in the prime of life. I'd give everything to go back to being 40 and having our children home and young again like yours.
Forty is not when middle age begins. It's when life begins. Forty is when you finally start to understand who you are and where you're going. Forty is when you finally have it all together. You're still young.
And there's one more thing Ken, and I want you to remember this most of all. Life is unpredictable and you can never count on what is going to happen next.
And the way I plan on counting my birthdays from now on - you're going to reach 60 long before I will.
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