You used to do it, admit it…you would watch some old man, maybe 70-years-old, teetering down the sidewalk, walking his dog, going slow, and think condescendingly, isn’t he cute?
Well sweetheart, that 70 or 80-year-old man is not cute and he doesn’t want you to think that he is. He also might not give a rats a—about what you think at all. He’s buried his wife, and has a weeping cherry in front yard that his children planted to remind him of her, and he was in the Korean war (Yes! There was a US-Korean war – google it) and he will be buried with a fine wool American Flag on his coffin.
OK – how old are you? 30? 32? 38? 44? 48? 52? 55? 58? 61!!!!!
Yes, age matters. It matters in certain places at certain times. When you are a professional, your age determines the level you expect yourself to be in your ‘career’ – what is a career? A pile of stuff you did that makes you feel secure? Is it a timeline of promotions? Of next steps? And are you happy with your timeline? Do you work in order to have a “great looking timeline” as your goal? What are you doing?
At some point, if your values mirror societies (yes, a generalization), you will put more import on your job than on you, yourself. You love your children, I know. You love your wife, your husband, but you love what your perception is of yourself in relation to others, even that old man tottering down the sidewalk with his little dog.
You make $150,000 a year, you’re not too much above your wedding weight, you look very young for your age, everyone says so, and you are SO smart – much smarter than your boss, most of your co-workers, and certainly most of your peers in general.
Now, here’s the hitch…. the clock….tick tock….you get fewer promotions, and people don’t notice your contributions because, well, at YOUR age, they are expected. Take that in. Oh no, here comes the young gun – the good looking, ignorant but self-possessed new employee that scares the shit out of you. Why? Because you can see yourself in their eyes…and they can’t see you. Don’t get bitter…at least don’t show it…. don’t show fear…frustration…as the situation builds, and you are seen as less and less relevant. Wait! Look at my timeline!! No one cares.
Try looking for a new job – you’re say 48, and you go to an interview for a job that you are perfectly qualified for. Then, when you sit down with the people interviewing you, you realize that not only are they 32 and 33 respectively, but you are also keenly aware that you already know how to do both their jobs, and they too realize this, and instead of feeling respect, they think you are sad, irrelevant, old, and why, why are you looking for a job? Your timeline must not be that good. The interview turns into a play – you play the nice old person, who pretends to be fascinated with what your young cohorts are saying, and the 30-ishers laugh and try to get through what they already know is a waste of time. A waste of their time, not yours. Your time is irrelevant. Why? Because you already had your time and your time has run out. You say thank you, shake hands, get out the door, relief spreading through you, and you know that you will never hear from them – that you are no further than you were before, and maybe you should just go home and do some online shopping.
Now, this is what you do…. allow your world to cosmically shift…forget your damn timeline, and think of your parents, your family, and become the person you were supposed to be all along. Laugh, because things are funny. Cry, because things are sad. Allow yourself to use your seasoned judgment, because dammit, you are probably right about many things that you observe. Enjoy being right. Shock others. Help others…and be kind. Don’t waste too much time feeling badly about mistakes – maybe 10% of the time you used to. Who cares? You know better.
Now, back to the man with the dog, and his weeping cherry tree. Stop and say hello. Do unto others….and remember, all of the great things you did are part of a continuum of your existence…but now there’s more. Don’t resent this unknown place— you knew it was there— you just never thought you would get there—and never thought you would get there so fast.
Oh yes, get a dog. Maybe two. And love, and work, and love – ferociously.