The Benefits of Aging

Yesterday, January 5, I celebrated my 64th birthday by eating too much good food and hanging out with family. The only card I received was from the guy who helped us refinance our home a few years ago, but I got some nice presents from my wife and lots of nice posts on Facebook. Rather than reflect on all the negative things associated with growing older, however, I have decided this year to count the many blessings associated with reaching three score and four.

Have you ever seen a young person driving an RV on I-5? An older friend and I recently traveled to Eugene; and I asked him, since I was driving, to look at every person driving an RV to see if any of them looked younger than the two of us. We saw lots of RVs, but no drivers who appeared to be under 60. My point is that old people have most of the discretionary money in this country, and it’s backed up by empirical observation. Donald Trump, Warren Buffet, and even Bill Gates are not spring chickens. There are a few exceptions like Mark Zuckerberg, but the vast majority of wealthier Americans are old.

When you have a limited future, long-term challenges don’t matter much unless you have a conscience. Climate change, joblessness, lack of education, Russian aggression, and immigration issues probably aren’t going to have a big impact on my generation. I don’t have or want an RV; but if I did, I could hop in it and leave my worries behind on the highway. Many of my retired friends keep sending me pictures from their winter homes in places like Arizona, California, and Mexico, as if I should be jealous of their warmth. Apparently, they don’t realize that we still have central heating and a nice gas fireplace, not to mention skiing and other winter activities. I wonder what the Mexicans are going to do with all those old Americans after the Great Wall is built.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of growing old is that people no longer expect much from you. I used to be asked to help people move with some frequency, and now I rarely receive requests. Even my wife saves really disagreeable tasks for my sons rather than expecting me to do them. I’m pretty sure I can still outrun all of my children, although it’s in my best interest not to brag about it. I do get more phone calls from people trying to cheat me out of money, but I’m able to have some fun by leading them on before I hang up.

More money, fewer worries, and low expectations – who could ask for more? “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” (No apologies to the youngsters who will not recognize this allusion.) So far, so good.