Saturday, June 27, 2009

Some Thoughts on Age

We are reminded of our mortality when famous people die. This week, we saw the passing of three of the biggest icons of their time -- Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. Arguably, they appealed to three separate generations. But all three were well known among members of most generations. Ed McMahon lived a relatively long life and because of this, his passing was not as tragic as the other two. Their deaths created some trials for me as general "aging" human.

When I was an uber-impressionable 13-year-old, Farrah Fawcett was the girl we all wanted to look like. At the hair salon, the stylist would ask: "Farrah Fawcett or Toni Tenille?" (Who even remembers Toni?) Farrah was the blonde Angel. Yes, we geeks argued for the attributes of Kate Jackson. And poor Jaqueline Smith seemed to have fallen through the cracks, being the "undesirable" brunette (or so it seemed).  You either had a poster of all three Charlie's Angels or THAT poster of Farrah. So, on Thursday, it was the passing of the household-name pin-up girl of my youth. Not someone still at the forefront. Yes, she was "young" -- only 62 -- but her household-name status had long-since expired, and I find myself mourning for my own youth in her passing.

But Michael Jackson was a different story. Michael Jackson was 50. Arguably "middle" age. His cross-generational appeal transcended that of Farrah Fawcett. He represented the youth of MANY generations. My generation. People in their 50s. People in their 30s. People in their 20s. So, when one of my 30-something colleagues at work said: "Michael Jackson dying makes me feel OLD," I couldn't help but be alarmed. I tried not to be insulted. If he thought MJ was old, what does he think of ME? I'm only six years younger.

I don't think of myself as "older." Both mentally and physically. I've always been more interested in music and technology of a younger generation. I once read that a company's web developers or designers should be under 30. Why? Is it bad that I'm over 40? I never thought so, but once in a while I worry that I can't keep up. I do yield to computer expertise of the younger generation, but I keep plugging away using their technology. I hope I'm not delusional. But physically, I may actually BE "younger." Every day, I watch younger people repeatedly indulge in fast food and engage in other unhealthy behaviors. They make me laugh when they shake their heads if I get injured doing these "ironman things," -- as though I am the one destroying my health.

I guess it's all in how you look at it. You don't have to act like a child to be "young." I suspect we "aging" athletes will have stories to tell for a very long time. I only hope we continue to have people to tell them to.

1 comment:

  1. Although I'm not an athlete -- and make no mistake -- no one will argue this fact, I-am-just-one-year-older-than -MJ. Yikes!

    Jeanne, I couldn't have said it any better. Although, I'm not only reminded of my mortality when someone famous from my youth passes away. I am reminded even more when someone passes away that I know personally.