Young-fashioned ways

The youngest of my six brothers and sisters turned 50 this week, meaning my whole family now has joined the ranks of the AARP-eligible. That seems impossible to me, seeing as how we were all in our 20s just last week, but there you go. My oldest sister will be 59 before the year’s out and her husband turned 60 a little while back, so time keeps flowing.

I thought about this the other day when I was having a conversation with my younger co-workers, and I realized there was no way to explain my childhood to them. I might as well have grown up on the moon for all that my childhood had in common with theirs. It’s difficult to explain to someone in their 20s the concept of giant Catholic families of the pre-birth-control era, or the days before cable television (much less the internet), or the idea of computers as giant, frightening machines that had to be kept in extra-chilly rooms to stop them from overheating. (These days, I suspect my laptop could kick Colossus’ ass.)

And that’s when I realized that I now have memories that are half a century old. That’s not just a lot of time by the sped-up measure of modern change; it’s a lot of time by any measurement. If you were to go back to my childhood and then dial back 50 years from there, for example, you could start making Teddy Roosevelt references.

But what I am fighting — and what I will continue to fight — is the temptation to start living a life based on nostalgia. I have had, by any objective measure, a life that has had far more than its fair share of adventure. And the actuarial tables dictate that, no matter what is to come, I have more adventures behind me than in front of me. But I’ll keep looking for that new thing, that fun thing, that challenging thing. To quote Muddy Waters (now, there’s an old-guy reference), I may be getting old, but I’ve got young-fashioned ways.


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