Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Saturday, November 19, 2011

When am I going to grow up?

“Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.” 
― Margaret AtwoodCat's Eye
When I grow up, I want to look like him. 

I had to laugh when I ran across the above quote over at Goodreads Quote of The Day.  While there is no doubt in my mind that I am 62 years old, there often exists an underlying belief that I am not really an adult.  This belief doesn't exactly float on the surface of my consciousness, it seems to reside in a normally closed closet within my mind.  So I don't walk around with the constant idea that I am not really an adult.  For the thought to occur to me, something has to trigger the closet door to open and then the notion floods into my mind but more in the process of a day dream than a conscious thought.

A distinguished handsome woman. 
Frequently this happens at the supermarket.  I will be slobbing up and down the aisles in my sneakers, blue jeans, scruffy shirt, and a ball cap (the same style of clothes that I wore when I was in high school).  I will see a certain type of person, and CLICK, the closet door flies open and out pops a notion of admiration and perhaps envy of this person and I find myself feeling like I am  somewhat of a naive, unknowing, worthless teen.   Again this is not so much of a conscious thought, but rather more of a daydream.  Then the second thought occurs to me, gee that person is 10 to 20 years younger than me!  That is a conscious thought.

Oh I wouldn't mind looking like him either, even if he is a
metrosexual.  Do they like girls?  
So who are these people who can engender this negative fountain of youth within my mind?  They are always well dressed but of a conservative style, well groomed but again conservatively so, obviously educated and intelligent, good posture and carriage, purposeful and not in a hurry, and distinguished looking.  They can be male or female, but if it is a woman, I would tend to describe her more as handsome than beautiful.  They are generally in an age group of 40 to 60 and they often have some gray in their hair.  Usually they look neither old or youthful.  I have pulled up some examples of both genders at the upper and lower end of the age bracket.

Diane Lane looking handsome.

Its an odd thing with search engines, I did a search for images of  distinguished men.  About 1/4 of the photos displayed were scantily clad women.  Most of the men displayed were not very distinguished looking, and most of the photos were of poor quality.  When I searched for distinguished women, half of them were nude, and while you could say many positive things about them usually involving beauty, handsome and distinguished just did not seem to fit.  The ones who were clothed, again, were not all that terribly distinguished or it was a lousy photo.  So out of frustration and a desire not to publish some private citizen's image, I devolved to Hollywood.  There is nothing wrong with being a performing artist, but I wanted to avoid the triteness of celebrity that the image may possess, the built in recognition, and preconceived attitudes that a reader may hold for the person.   So when you look at the photos try to look at them in a generic sense rather than "Oh it's Helen Mirren" and see her in your mind's eye at the Academy Awards.   

It is an odd feeling this being old and immature at the same time.  So what is it about these people that engenders this feeling of a lack a maturity?   I certainly don't feel young.  But this is not a question of young or old.  It is the question of recognizing oneself as an adult.  It is a question of growing intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually through learning and life experience, not simply accruing birthdays.   So what is it about these people?  I for the most part do not envy looks or fine clothes and fashions.  There is a great comfort in being ugly and a slob, it keeps one isolated  from temptation.   So what is it about these people?  

They are capable.  I envy their ability.  What they have in reality doesn't matter, we are not pulling out last year's 1040, or comparing CVs and resumes.  I am only seeing an image that they present to the world, and it is an entirely different image than what I present.  These people exude an atmosphere of capability by presenting themselves as neat, tidy, well dressed and emotionally and intellectually well grounded.  I look like some slob that retired out of a factory...oh yeah, that is exactly what I am.  So other than knowing how to do some factory things, I am principally in the same boat that I was the day I graduated from high school.  Well not really but it seems that way. 


I don't envy the wealthy their wealth.  Certainly I wouldn't mind having say double my income, but I sure as hell don't need 10  or 100 times my income.  I find the trappings of the wealthy often vulgar and usually rather amusing.  The trappings of the extravagantly wealthy are down right bizarre.  I thought a $300,000 Bentley over the top.  How about a $423,000 watch?  No, I do not envy wealth and possessions.  But I do envy ability.  I have such dearth there of!  I excel at nothing, in fact, I really can't think of anything that I am even good at...mediocre to lousy in all fields of endeavor.  

In as much as I believe in reincarnation, (I don't actually believe it, I fear it--I want to be done with this shit...not keep coming back and back), I believe that I may be paying back some well deserved Karma in this life.  Nothing seems to work for me as well as it does for other people.  Other people seem to manage their time, their resources, their wealth, and their abilities much better than I do.  I seem incapable in comparison, something like a kid in high school.

On the other hand, in some of the blogs I follow, I read of bad marriages, horrifically abused childhoods, drug and alcohol abuse, lost jobs, foreclosed mortgages, illness, deaths of spouses or children, abusive marriages, endless spectrum of despair.  Yeah,  I am not too experienced in any of that stuff either--just a child really.   I have lived a sheltered life with a very good woman who has made a respectable human being out of me.  I had a not bad job that paid the bills, kept a shabby roof over our heads, put my son through college, and is now providing a livable pension.  Mediocre, yeah, but respectable so what the hell am I bitching about?

EDIT 3-22-12:  Another guy I would like to look like, and yes I wish she was my daughter.

Anthony Hopkins and Claire Forlani in Meet Joe Black


Image Credits

Michael Caine:

George Clooney:

Diane Lane:,_Diane/gallery/SGG-057709/

Hellen Mirren:


Anthony Hopkins & Claire Folani:


  1. I'm not sure what you're carrying on about ? You're 62..enjoy it. John Jerome died at 69, and I'm sure he had a couple good books left in him yet.
    I think the best we can do is to enjoy each day at whatever station in life we find ourselves. And I think by and large you are. Cause if you can do that, then you have attained all the wealth worth having.
    I'm not a betting man, but if I were, I'd say you have a few good blogs left in you too !
    Maybe you should read Jerome's, "On Turning 65" again for a little daily inspiration. Actually read pg. 109, for a little perspective.

  2. The sad thing is, I am not sure what I am carrying on about either! Further proof of the validity of the title question. The post is based on the quote at the top of the page. It is perhaps one of those posts written for myself.

    Well I need to read On Turning 65 altogether because I dropped it mid book when I read that Jerome had died. Not intentional, but I just found it incredibly sad to read his hopes for the future & knowing that he died shortly after the book was published. But that is not the gist of what I was getting at here. It is all in the quote at the top of the page. I often seem (in my mind) like a wet behind the ears kid trapped in an old man's body. How in the hell did I arrive at this condition?

    I do envy capability, something that seems to be
    remarkably missing in my life. On the other hand, my life has been blessed with love and stability from a wonderful woman that I probably do not deserve.

    The problem with comparing oneself to the suave, well collected, well dressed man thoughtfully selecting organic vegetables at the supermarket is that you know exactly what a shithead you are. You don't know anything about him, except that he appears to have it all together. Yep he makes $125K a year by selling shaky investment products to stupid saps like me. The fact that he can't break into the 200K club has resulted in a drinking problem, and when he drinks he tends to smack his wife around. But none of that is evident in his mannerisms and public personae. I see an obviously successful person purchasing vegetables that are priced a little out of my comfort zone, and think "Sextant you big shithead, when are you going to grow up, act and dress like an adult, and buy yellow peppers at $3.99 each?"

    So what does it all mean? Hell I don't know. Perhaps that the unexamined life is not worth living? Wear a suit to the supermarket? I don't know, I just wonder when I am going to grow up.

  3. After I did my post and was away from the computer.....that thought also ran thru my head.....I kinda missed the original point of what you were trying to get at.....
    Capability to make $125K , drink to excess and slap around your partner...oh yeah baby....thank the good Lord you don't have the aspiring potential and all the trappings that come with that lifestyle. Not to say that all rich folks do that of course.
    Do you have to grow up? Difference between men and boys, is their toys.
    I keep adding to mine.....only difference is the sand lot is bigger and it's just as much fun or more.
    Carry on dear sir.

  4. I think growing up--never mind growing old-- is overrated. Better to remain a work in progress.

  5. Busman

    Well I have to admit you have a big sandlot with a lot of toys.

    BTW page 109 was inspiring. In case the Canadian edition uses metric pages, I assume you meant the paragraph that begins "Most of the aging men I know refuse to see themselves as old". He then states that he knows he is old but will select what activities he will slow down on. Then in a sentence that drips with trademark Jerome, he states that this notion is arrogant, that God and father time (and with bitter clairvoyance) and certain cellure mechanisms will decide "I'm just trying to maintain the illusion of choice..."

    Oh Busman, what did cancer steal from us? As always thanks for your kind comments and insight.

  6. Donna

    Growing old is definitely over rated or at least the term golden years. Growing up? I don't know, I seem to lack a yardstick to measure it.

    "Better to remain a work in progress" Ahhaa, truly a pearl of wisdom. Indeed, we want to keep growing, don't we? Maybe that is why some older people get so cranky, they allow the aches and pains to overwhelm their curiosity, and then it is only a matter of time.

    Thanks for commenting.

  7. Hey, don't beat yourself up! You are certainly a way above average writer - and you with such a scientific background. Your interests remind me of my dad and my brother (dad -engineer, brother -IT). My dad always claimed he couldn't write a letter and yet when I wasn't speaking to my mom for a year, he wrote to me regularly. I still have those letters. NB. I am 61 - so I feel much younger and more immature than you. Can't believe you follow my blog, but no matter - your trains of thought are the kind that plague me too, so I'm going to follow yours. Anyway, sounds like you love your wife the way I love my husband.

  8. Fiftyodd

    Thanks for stopping by and following, and thank you for your very kind comments. Hell at 61 you are a spring chicken, just a kid. Been there done that a year ago.

    Why wouldn't I follow your blog? Your posts are excellent and you are a very good writer. I enjoy your observations on marriage and family. We people who wear the world on our sleeves have to stick together.

    I do love my wife, she is my whole world, and like I said, I can relate to your posts about your marriage. Thanks for commenting.

    Well I have to write a comment about bus trips in Cape Town.

  9. Thank you. You have made my day. I can totally relate to this, except that I'm a woman and I don't wear a ball cap. I love my jeans, and sneakers (running shoes) are so practical for running up and down stairs, escalators, running to the subway, bus etc. I live in Paris, France and when I stop and look around me, I see these elegant, distinguished, beautiful, fantastically put-together people and sigh... when I grow up I want to be like that. I'm 51 so I guess I have to hurry up.
    You're a talented writer, and you've made me smile, thank you.

  10. Marlene,

    Thank you for visiting my blog and for your very kind comment. I am glad to have made your day. Marlene, we may not be fantastically put-together, but are we happy? I am and I hope you are. That is worth far more than elegance.

    Thanks again for stopping by and commenting. Please stop back, I can use all the readers I can get, especially one that I can make smile. I can't think of a higher compliment. Thanks!

  11. That is such a strange coincidence. You have just put into words in this blog post, exactly what I was thinking today. The older I get, the more I like myself, and I like being the age I am. I suppose I could be a little younger, or a little more wealthy, but I am happy with who I am. And it's very strange, but from your writing, I have always imagined you as very sophisticated and debonaire, no ball cap and blue jeans at all. :-)

  12. Jo

    Ha! Fooled you! But I am not sure why. Well I have always had a phony thin veneer of intellectualism but at heart I am a slob with an average IQ maintaining some peculiar high falutin interests.

    Interesting! It sounds as though you are growing into happiness. Yes we all would like to be wealthier and younger, but neither is a ticket to happiness because both are ephemeral and when you think about it, both are already true. You are younger and wealthier than many people. Its all relative, but I am not sure that happiness is. It would seem that happiness would operate on a analogue gradient, but I wonder about that. Happiness may have a very digital nature as well. There may be a very large component of happiness that switches on or off, and once on, I suspect the gradients of happiness are fairly small.

    I heard an interview on NPR the other day with a guy that wrote a book called "Shiny Objects".

    This guy claims that we need a certain level of income to be happy, but it is surprisingly low. Enough to cover the basics with just a bit of discretionary left over. Beyond that level people start to pursue the pursuit of wealth, power, and or material objects as goal in their own right. I guess that is when a $423,000 watch becomes important. If you can only afford a $200,000 watch, it must become a source of vast unhappiness. Misery may have a lot of shades of grey. I pity such people.

  13. I find myself very often saying to people that "When I grow up I want to be....(insert name here)". So I know that I'm still not where I want to be as far as maturity. Well not really maturity but where I want to be in my head to consider myself as a grown up, a successful grownup.

    And many times I'll see an article of clothing or a pair of shoes, especially shoes that I just LOVE and then realize I can't wear things like that! It's just not befitting a woman of my age!

    I used to laugh at my mom because she loves the color RED and used to wear nothing but red, then one day she quit wearing it and when I asked her why she said it was because "old ladies don't wear red". Sad I think. I think we should act and be and dress the age we feel inside, not the age that a number tells us we are.

    As far as the wealth, I would love to be filthy rich so I could buy a few thousand acres and build a huge house in the middle for myself and then houses all around me within a stones throw for my children, my parents, my siblings and their children and we would just have a small community of Aliciaites, where we could all still be together, but apart. But never, ever would I own a watch that cost $423,000 when there are so many people I know suffering and struggling to feed, clothe and shelter their families and themselves. That's just obscene!

    Very thought provoking post!

  14. Alicia,

    I think you have grown up. I don't think you had any choice...your life demanded it of you, but it is wonderful that you have kept a shard of innocence and your good cheer.

    Alicia, you are rich, not filthy and not in money, and perhaps not always in the ways that you want. But you have people who love you and need you in your life, and that you need and love. Sure we could always use a little more money, but it won't buy happiness. There are a lot of filthy rich unhappy people in the world. Well there are just a lot unhappy people in the world. I don't believe you are one of them.

    Alicia, it is always and honor, thanks for stopping by and commenting.