Jack Nicholson, the actor, in expressing sadness about his age, was quoted this week in Time magazine as saying "There were points in my life where I felt oddly irresistible to women. I'm not in that state now."
Although Jack's a decade older than me, I know exactly what he means. Girls who used to come on to us don't anymore and that's one of the saddest realizations a guy can have. It's sad in large part because our body and our mind don't agree on our age. The external expression of ourselves is how we look physically; the internal expression is how we feel mentally. Most guys still feel like they're in their 20s or 30s, regardless of their true age and, consequently, there's a certain mystification about the way other people see us because what used to work doesn't work so well anymore.
As we get older, we face perhaps the greatest conundrum of our lives. We don't want to get old but we don't want to die either. And the fact is, we can't escape either one. So some people get face lifts, hair transplants, commit to rigorous exercise regimes and do all kinds of other things in their attempt to stay young because young is where it is. For example, one of my students the other day told me he didn't think anyone over thirty should even be on Facebook and I had to smile on the inside because that took me back to my younger days and the adage we had that we couldn't trust anybody over 30. Often times, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
I know why that is of course. It's primarily because of what we perceive to be physical attractiveness. We don't value age and experience, we value beautiful faces and hot bodies and, for better or worse, that's just the way it is. I wish it wasn't that way because I no longer have a beautiful face or a hot body but I don't see that ever changing. I would like to be the life of the party again and the date all the girls wanted to have but it's never going to be that way again.
Time marches on and there's nothing we can do to turn back the hands of the clock. We had our day in the sun and now it's somebody else's turn. Now it's our responsibility and obligation to be wise, empathetic and to give good counsel when it's asked for, even though the young tend to do their own thing regardless of our advice.
There used to be an old adage that said "Live fast, love hard and die young." There was a certain attractiveness to that but, by the same token, if the vast majority of us had the option of dying young or dying old, we would still choose old.
So I know why Nicholson said what he said and there are many of us around the world who share the same sentiments. And as hard as it is for some, it's time to close the chapter on one book and start a new one, not because we want to but because we have to.
And when my generation is dead and gone, another generation will be pulled, kicking and screaming, into the void we left to take our place.
And the sun will still come up the next morning, just like it always has.