I have a birthday coming up. It’s one of those big milestone years. To be honest, I’m not looking forward to it.
That’s silly, I know. Friends keep telling me that getting older beats the alternative. I’m not disagreeing with them, but I wish they would quit saying that. Telling me to cheer up because I'm not a rotting corpse has not put me in the mood to celebrate.
I suppose we all eventually reach an age where birthdays just aren’t that exciting anymore. This one has been that birthday for me. Even the joy of splurging on cake and ice cream is gone. Have to think about the long-term consequences of food now. I’m hoping to get older and wiser … not older and wider.
The older you get the more the years start to blend together. Do you ever forget how old you are? It happened to me recently. Just a few weeks ago I met a fellow alumnus of my college. I asked when he graduated — thinking our paths might have crossed before — but he had actually matriculated about 15 years after I did. There I was thinking we were roughly the same age, while he was probably thinking I looked old enough to be his mom.
As much as I dislike the thought of growing older, there are some scientifically proven advantages to reaching middle age. Reasoning and problem-solving skills get sharper, according to a study prepared for the Brookings Institute by Sumit Agarwal, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He found the middle-aged made smarter money decisions than their younger counterparts.
Also, according to a study published recently in the journal Psychology and Aging, our outlook grows rosier as we get older. (I’m sure my family is waiting for that to kick in any day now.) With the passage of time, the study subjects reported more positive well-being and greater emotional stability. That may have been partly due to changes in how the brain responds to positive and negative events as we age.
Soon, I’ll be the one getting to talk about the good ole days. That’s something to look forward to. True, I never walked to school barefoot in the snow, but I’m sure I’ll be able to shock young children by telling them how people lived with only three television channels and families shared one phone that was mounted to the wall. If I wanted to hear a song, I had to listen to this thing called the radio and just hope they played my tune (which I would then quickly record on a cassette tape).
I guess getting older is not all bad. A lot of happy memories to look back on, and hopefully more good days than bad still in store. Maybe a small piece of cake won’t hurt.