December 9, 2014
60. Why? There is no reason why I should have reached 60. Yet, technically I’m not a senior citizen. Yet. Most experts say that the age 65 is when you become a senior citizen. Sadly I can’t officially get a discount at a movie theater nor one for a public bus pass - but at both times, the middle-aged person asked me if I’m asking for a senior citizen’s discount or pass. I could lie and tell them that I’m 65, but the truth is I’m 60. This is exactly how I felt when I was 14 or 15 and wanted to get a license to drive. I had the talents of a driver, but I couldn’t obtain a license due to my age. So once again, like a teenager, I’m waiting till I reach a certain number (65) before I cash in for the discounts and etc.
Emotionally and intellectually, I feel exactly the same as when I was 35. Basically there is no real difference between the ages of 35 and 60. The one thing I do notice when I’m 60 is that people around you begin to die off. Famous people, as well as friends. And especially friends of your parents or other older family members. 35 strikes me as the age when you’re an adult. Not legally, that happens when you’re either 18 or 21. But I find most people in their 20s are still trying to figure out what to be done in their life. Basically, the 20s is very much like being a teenager, but you have the ability to move out of your family home (for some) or make financial decisions. Otherwise you’re very much still a teenager. Some people get married in their 20s, but if they asked me for advice I would tell them to wait till they are in their 30s. Unless they have grown up in a certain culture, I think getting married in their 20s is OK, but for most Americans who live in America today, I would strongly suggest holding off on marriage and major decisions on career moves. It is not till you’re 35, when life becomes much clearer than when you’re a teenager or in your 20s.
The worst fear of being in your 60s, is the fact that one’s looks starts to fade or change, and you will of course be facing death - either as a subject matter or someone close to you will eventually die. That in three words: Is. A. Bummer. As for me, I like to be attractive to the opposite sex as much as possible. When I was young, I was quite handsome, but now, staring at the mirror I realized age has changed me. The worst is the stomach area got bigger, and that is a very fragile emotional point for me. I used to be so skinny or slim, but now, I look very much like a 60 year-old man, who doesn’t exercise on a regular basis. Me, doing exercises, would just remind me that I’m 60 and that is kind of depressing. Women don’t look at me like they used to - especially women in their 20s or 30s. That is quite painful. The only thing I have in my favor is charm, but that is like fine wine in a bottle that is placed in the garage or wine cellar. It becomes an object to admire, but no one wishes to taste its flavor.
As I got older two artists that I adore much more as a “senior citizen” is the filmmaker John Cassavetes and the composer Pierre Henry. I feel that they make art for older people. I never got Musique concréte as a raving youth, but now, that I’m an adult, I appreciate the aesthetics of sound that is around me. For instance as I write in my wife’s studio, I can hear the morning traffic, which has a consistent rhythm that is very suitable for writing. The one surprise is to hear the sound of car crashes on the No. 5 freeway (which is directly behind our house). But normally it is just one long purr - it’s fantastic. Some of Pierre Henry’s work reminds me of the beauty of hearing traffic out of one’s window. As for Cassavaetes, it is middle-age angst. I can identify with that! “Opening Night” is the film that I like the best from all his other films. I think it’s a masterpiece, with a brilliant performance from Gina Rowlands. An aging actress dealing with a theater role that in turns makes her think of aging, relationships changing, and the need for love. Or to give love. Although it has a strong point-of-view from a female’s perspective on the subject matter of aging, I too can identify with her, as well as with the other cast members in that film.
At this point, I’m still too young at 60, to really understand the full meaning of aging. I’m hoping that when I reach 65, and receive the official discounts one deserves for a ‘long’ life, I will finally understand what it means to be an old person. Till then, it’s a paradise of my own making.