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April 8, 2013

On Turning 55

Steven R. Berryman

Upon writing this stream of consciousness piece, just before my “middle age” begins, I am suitably humbled by what a strange, interesting ride it has been. Throwing grammar to the wind today, because I CAN.


There are certain rights and privileges reserved for us older people.


Strangely empowering to know AARP discounts and cheap(er) movie tickets from the Westview 16 Theaters are now available, like low hanging fruit. Nice to know that some restaurants even offer seniors discounts…. on things the doc says you can’t eat!


Turning 55 seems a watershed event about now, but I know that it hasn’t been that long since “carded” at some rail… a few years?


They say you are only as old as you feel, so my biological age should be 30, physical age 41; certain other select organs 65.


Strange how long-term memories persist and filter themselves over time, while short-term memory ekes back and forth from perfect to “what” and “I did?”…  Do you leave yourself notes…pretending they are to-do lists?


Of course with age and experiences, there have been changes in hearing ability, especially across middle and vocal frequencies; conversations disappear behind any screen of background conversations and clutter. Best defense: nod a lot, and reserve the important conversations for quieter times. Never answer questions that you cannot hear.


Having shot high power firearms like 7mm Magnum rounds and full-load 300 grain .44 Magnums since age 18 might have something to do with any hearing loss; seen about 30 air shows close up as well. Real culprit was most probably having toured McIntosh Electronics in Binghamton, NY, on an extended VIP trip once around 1981. They turned over their R&D/demo lab to us to play in for 2 hours while I was with retailer audio associates; there were black and gold amps and speakers worth over $300,000 in a media-lab the size of a big family room…to experiment with… and we did a lot of testing!


Musicians Fleetwood Mac and The Grateful Dead had also been there recently to pick up electronics for their concerts, if this tells you anything.


Having survived two rice-rocket motorcycles, I’m still in awe of the fact that I made it to 55. I’ve slid sideways on a 665 lb beast at 70 mph on a single lane bridge between two cement trucks once; not a scratch. Stayed next to Three Mile Island the exact night of their famous melt-down in Pennsylvania on a motorcycle trip back to college. Still had three kids, although certainly irradiated!


More harrowing than that, I survived being a little league girls’ softball umpire, a basketball ref, basketball coach, lacrosse statistician, being on a football chain-gang, and sitting on a home owners board of directors for six straight years.


Survived to manage and grand-open stores in four states for Montgomery Ward, The Sports Authority, and Target. Met quite a few people. That was a slice of life!


It’s a bit hard to sort the memories from the baggage sometimes, but at 55 it’s a good time to poke around on what your mind gravitates to. In the old days, we pursued items of immediate gratification more frequently. Now, items of history and legacy seem more pressing, although not quite the “bucket list”….yet.


Materialism, keeping up with the Joneses, and “living for the day” have given-in to affording service, an appreciation for good reading and writing, and keeping up with the children. Sometimes just getting through a complex day any more is a reward unto itself, as we seem to willingly pack more in now.


Is that because there are fewer days on this earth presumed, or are we now just better organizers and masters of appreciating our time?


Is age 55 a beginning, a mid-point, or the beginning of some end-game in life? Yes. Funny that at this stage, you are considered old by the young, young by the old, and accepted as pretty normal by those sharing your baby boomer status.


It’s kinda fun to always have a story to relate, having had so many; hard to resist the available one-ups-manship now at hand. Well, back in the day…


Now, I know I’m forgetting something.


I don’t recall any of this as “getting old(er),” but it seems at this writing that a whole bunch of time has gone-by. And that’s okay.


With all of the accumulated friends and family this age affords, wouldn’t have it any other way. @55 now. Surprised to make it this far!


Yellow Cab
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