I recently spent some time with an old friend, and I’m not referring to his age… though he did just turn (*cough*) 50 this year. He’d just picked me up from the airport in Boston and we were headed the beach to meet up with some other blast-from-the-past pals. This friend has been a big supporter of mine through the years, giving me advice on everything from men to money (the two things I apparently know very little about). I’d even go so far as to call him a mentor of sorts, so naturally I proudly let him know about my big bad blog and how I’d love it if he’d follow it. To my complete shock and dismay he uttered a weak “eh” and continued driving.
My feelings were hurt! I know that my sardonic musings aren’t exactly on Oprah’s must-read list, but this blog is important to me. Shouldn’t be have at least pretended to care? Was he that enlightened that he didn’t think my witty insights would add anything to his perfect world, or had we grown apart enough that he was no longer interested in the struggles and triumphs in my life? Should I have been grateful for his honesty or offended that he didn’t straight up lie to me about his interest in my “art?” In any case, how dare he?
I sat pouting for a few minutes, not sure what to say. Then I started wondering if we get meaner as we get older, or just more honest? In a case like this, is there really a difference?
In my recent assessment at work, it was pointed out that I am a little more direct than some people are comfortable with. I personally didn’t think there was anything wrong with cutting through all the bullshit and being straight with people… until it happened to me! I’ve found that as life happens – work, family, relationships – I have less patience with the run-around than I did when I was in my 20’s. It doesn’t mean I care less, I just don’t have the energy so figure out what you’re really trying to say to me, so I give and take at face value. My friend wasn’t doing anything different, he just had 17 years of “no-bullshit” on me.
So, now that my punk-ass feelings have recovered from his bluntness, I had to ask… why doesn’t he care?
As it turns out, my friend was always very interested in self-examination and self-improvement. Hell, one of the first times we hung out together he told me the fascinating story of how he went to see a Tony Robbins lecture and ended up walking on hot coals! But now at the ripe old age of 50, he pretty much has himself all figured out and is not really interested in continuing to live the examined life… even if it means hurting his spry little buddy’s feelings.
His vantage point got me thinking about the phases in our lives, what we go through, and how we come out on the other end. It appears, at least in my eyes, to look something like this:
Make lots of mistakes – shrug them off.
Occasionally marry the wrong person.
Reflect on how stupid we were in our 20’s
Pay for the aforementioned mistakes – emotionally and financially.
Dive into a painful yet enlightening journey of self-discovery.
40’s and beyond
Give up the self-examination and ease into the “I am what I am” phase.
Become grateful or become bitter – your choice.
If you read any of these posts you know that I am very obviously in my 30’s and still quite obsessed with figuring it all out. I let it all hang out in a hopeful attempt to learn more and inspire others to do the same.
But in the end, isn’t the goal just to become okay with ourselves?
Do people in their 40’s and 50’s have it all figured out… or have they just given up the fight?
I guess what I heard in my friend’s elusive response was concession; he didn’t have an interest in delving into the “why’s” and “if only’s” any longer. He’d outgrown it. Part of me hopes to get to that point, but the other part hopes that I never stop trying to be better than I am – never stop forgiving, never stop seeking to understand, and never stop believing.
I thought about asking my friend all these questions. I thought about his reaction to my in-depth query to what seemed a simple conversation. But hey, he’s never going to read this anyway 😉