& Note to Joe and Bernie:
I’ve been wondering…are you finding that it’s taking a little more time to straighten up each morning? Find yourselves ordering hot tea instead of a cold beer? Have you visited Amazon looking for heated socks? Are those headlights coming at you at night starting to flare? How’s the hearing? Really, now, how’s the hearing? Be honest.
I’m gonna guess from your appearance (increasingly rumpled, I note) that you’re both still buying green bananas, and you’re still picking up those two-packs of large tubs of Metamucil at Sam’s Club. I mean to say that you’re not padding in the pasture in your slippers, quite yet.
But, fellas, come on! You’re pushing 80. Eighty. It’s coming on you real quick. Back when you turned 60, there was some truth to that observation that “60 is the new 50.” Even when you turned 70, there could be validity in “70 is the new 60.” Now that you’re about to be 80, there’s still some good news, take it from me: 80 is the new 79.
There’s no way around it, my friends: 80 is old. I speak from experience – there ain’t no spring chickens up here in the Ninth Decade. Guaranteed: you’re slowing down, and you won’t be able to control the rate that you descend into the ranks of doddering old men. All of us – every one of us who cast our first-ever votes for John Kennedy – are losing it. Some of us are lucky – still interested, active, upright – some not so lucky. But ask yourselves, as I ask my mirror: When are you going to lose it? You know only that you will, sooner or later. You also know that “later” is not far off. It’s soon.
I’m told that you guys are now asking those millions for whom later is, in fact, much later, to rely on you and your fading vitality to lead them into a future fraught with the greatest question homo sapiens have ever faced – how do we stop our planet from burning and bubbling away under our very feet? Today, there are no answers. There is only the knowledge that those answers must be found, and time is short.
When – and if – those solutions are found, they will be discovered by vital, energetic, clever young explorers of the as-yet uncharted wilderness of the future, themselves encouraged and supported by vital, energetic, clever young torch-bearers who lead them into that wilderness. We won’t be along for that adventure, Bernie and Joe. That’s a good thing. You and I may have the best of wishes for our descendants, but we do not have their motivation; they have much more to lose than do those of us perched out here on the edge of eternity. Yes, we have handed them a messy decline into oblivion. And yes, right or wrong, it is only they who have the slightest chance of stopping that decline.
So let us, you and I, resolve to not stand in their way. Let us trust them, as our elders trusted us, to do their best with what we have left them. Let us, like old people, lower ourselves into a comfortable seat, put on our heated socks, sip our tea, mumble our advice, and wait for the bananas to ripen.
& Wondering if Ninety is the new Ninety, and walking slowly, I’m outta here.