Growing Old Doesn’t Mean You Have To Grow Up
I think we can all agree, "old" in the 21st century is not the same as "old" in the 20th. Then again, I guess the real measure of age is the lives we've led rather than the number we've achieved. Just looking back through family pictures, my grandparents looked older at 55 than my own parents do at 65... but the curiosity doesn't end there.
If a person was rolling into their 60s at some point in the 1980s, odds are they had lived through some of the worst and most stressful events in America's history... Like clockwork and without reprieve events like The Great Depression, WWII, Korea, the Cuban Missle Crisis, the Civil Rights Movement, dead presidents, dead leaders, Vietnam, oil and gas shortages, the devaluation of the dollar, corporate raiders sending jobs overseas, and countless lost pensions just in their first sixty years of life. Couple all of that with hard and manual jobs, those were the wrinkles you'd see on their aged faces.
On the flip side, life looks less old on the faces of Boomers and Gen-Xers. It's an amazing juxtaposition seeing the generations side by side given that there's a lot of overlap in those stressful and historical events... but I suppose youth tends to make even the most important things we can experience a little easier to swallow, doesn't it? As if the inexperience and rose-tinted glasses of youth fail to measure the actual gravity of a situation.
It's weird to think about, but even more weird if I share with you how I boarded this train of thought... It was a video of a bunch of local old dudes riding dirt bikes.
It's amazing what pops up on Facebook, isn't it?
Traditionally, dirt biking is a somewhat youthful sport. Not to say the (cough-cough) more experienced riders can't still enjoy getting out and making a sprint through the woods... it's just not something you'd expect, but here we are in 2022 watching action-cam footage of a bunch of old dudes gripping and ripping it through the wild trails of Fry Lake, Oklahoma.
Here's the funnier part, while motorcycles and dirt bikes have had a renaissance thanks to the pandemic, these guys have been stacking the starting gates for years and years, as anyone would with any other long-term hobby, and that's pretty awesome.
I think back to the stories of how gramps had his first heart attack at 51 and how life slowed to some extent for him after that. The motorcycles were parked in the barn for good, steps on the porch were made more numerous with an easier height, and gone were the livestock that took so much work and effort.
On the flip-side, while forty years old was "over the hill" to those generations, forty is the new age to "settle down" and start thinking about a future now. 70 isn't one foot in the grave anymore. 80 is a real average. I can't even fathom what old age will look like to my nephews still in their early teens.
I hope my and future generations can follow the footsteps of these old dudes... though, it would be infinitely cooler to see them do it on an old Elsinore or a monster vintage PE400... but those mighty options are probably more for the good-time crowd, and these dudes look like they're competing.
Hats off to them all. May we all grow to become this awesome.
Goosebumps and other bodily reactions, explained