Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Big Six Oh

Turning 40 was never a traumatic event for male Baby Boomers. It's just another year. I only feel 30. Even 50, the half century mark, was no big deal. I'm still going strong. But 60? That’s a milestone. According to Manhattan psychiatrist Dr. Robert Schwalbe, that’s when the existential angst sets in.

Schalbe, author of “Sexy, Sixty and Successful: A Guide for the Aging Male Baby Boomer,” writes about the insight he’s gained from his clientele, mostly male Boomers. “Suddenly, mortality becomes an issue. A 40- and 50-year-old doesn’t have to think about that.”

As described by Peter King for Newsday, the book “helps the generation that four decades ago was singing The Who’s ‘I hope I die before I get old’ come to terms with getting, if not old, at least older.”

Hitting 60 and commencing the seventh decade of life is difficult because men confront the undeniable fact that their bodies are changing -- usually sagging. Hot young women aren't even giving them a first look, much less a second look. Suddenly, those Viagara and Cialis ads sound pretty darned interesting.

“Specific health issues start coming up,” Schwalbe says. “You start hearing about your peers who have health issues.”

Schwalbe, who is 64 himself, advises 60+ Boomers to adjust their expectations and accept their limitations. It’s great to stay active. But don’t try to exercise like you did when you were younger. There’s no way to keep up with someone 20 years younger.

As a 55-year-old, I’ve come to peace with the idea that advancing in years isn’t so bad – as long as I keep my health. I’ve got more experience under my belt, more memories, more stories and anecdotes to draw from -- more wisdom. What's more, I have more disposable income than I did when I was young and more freedom to do fun stuff. Here’s the best benefit of all -- a benefit I never expected. When I was 25, all my friends and contemporaries were clueless, powerless dweebs like me. Three decades later, I find that my friends and contemporaries – the people I know on a first-name basis – are successful professionals, business executives, politicians and civic leaders. Instead of railing against “the man,” my friends are “the man.”

For my money, old and experienced is waayyyy better than young and idealistic.

As for turning 60, I’m not worried. Schwalbe draws his case studies from Manhattan, one of the most angst-ridden cities in the universe. By definition, the people he knows most intimately are suffering from depression, anxiety or neurosis. I doubt they’re typical of the male Baby Boomers of New York, much less the United States. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m looking forward to turning 60, but I’m cool with it.

1 comment:

Groveton said...

"For my money, old and experienced is waayyyy better than young and idealistic.".

Dude - you're killing me here. I'd stand on my head for a year to be twenty again for 6 months. Of course, when I was 20 I was living in a fraternity house at UVA so maybe it was environment. Anyway, I'd still stand on my head to get back there.

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