On Being Old

I’m old. No point in denying it or pretending otherwise. But I don’t receive the expected credit or respect for age that is common in our society. Why? Because I don’t look my age.

Throughout my life, I have always looked younger than I am. When I first applied to go to Saint Joseph’s high school in Alameda, California, the authorities wanted to reject me because I looked too young for high school. And even after I turned twenty-one and had a driver’s license to prove it, bartenders sometimes refused to serve me. When at age 55 I retired from the federal government as early as I could to write fulltime, those in charge questioned whether I was old enough, based on my looks. These days people often assume I’m ten to twenty years younger than I am and express surprise at learning that I’m retired.

All that said, aging is taking its toll. I’m not as sure-footed as I used to be, I can’t lift as much weight as I did even a few years ago, and my memory is failing. In fact, I am becoming deficient in just about every enterprise save one: thinking.

I find that I can think better, faster, and more clearly now than at any earlier time in my life. That means that my writing, the feat for which I was born, is more facile and effective than ever before in my life.

So I need to count my blessings.

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