Commentary by Bill Buchanan
My birthday was last week. I was an income tax day baby, born on April 15, 1954. It is hard for me to believe I am almost 60 years old. Mentally, I think of myself as about 35. But all it takes is one look in the mirror, or seeing a recent photo to realize that 35 is so far back in my rearview mirror that it is little more than a flyspeck.
About 20 years ago, I was having lunch with a gentleman I used to work for when he suddenly announced, “I hate eating at this restaurant.” I asked if his food was bad. “No, I like the food, but I hate all the mirrors they have in this place.” When I asked him why, he replied, “Because I can’t stand to look in a mirror and see that old man looking back at me.” I laughed.
Twenty years later, it is not nearly as funny. Several years ago I shaved a mustache that I had worn for over 25 years. I’d had the mustache for so long that Ava had never seen me without it. I shaved it because it was getting too white. I didn’t mind my hair turning gray, but I thought my rapidly graying mustache made me look at least 10 years older. One day I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw Wilford Brimley staring back at me. Out came the razor, off went the mustache.
In some ways I feel I have aged a great deal; in others, not so much. I certainly don’t look the same as I did years ago. My hair has gone white, although most of it is still there. I have put on too much weight Ñ my butt is soon going to require its own ZIP code if I don’t reverse that trend.
Some people get more conservative as they get older. For me, that is a mixed bag. Politically, I am conservative on fiscal issues, liberal on social issues. I have become increasingly distrustful and disgusted at the massively wasteful spending of the federal government, becoming more and more conservative in that respect. While I have always been liberal regarding racial issues and the need to respect the religious beliefs of others, I have become considerably more liberal on gay rights in the last 20 years or so.
One stereotype is that old people are “cranky.” While my temper is still a source of embarrassment from time to time, I actually think it has become more manageable over the years. I still lose it more than I like, but I think I am mellowing with age. I have not kicked in any doors, nor put my fist through any walls in a long time. That is actually a pretty big step forward for me. I am also better about yelling and gesturing to people while driving. I am certainly more conscious of it while driving the OVN van. You are not exactly anonymous when your business name is plastered all over your vehicle. If everyone had to put a name and phone number on the outside of their vehicle, we would all be more courteous behind the wheel.
On the upside, the passing years have given me lifelong friendships and experiences I would not trade for anything. As for the most important relationship in my life, Ava and I will celebrate our 34th anniversary next month.
I try to remember that the blessings age can bestow will always trump the vanities of youth. And that makes looking in that mirror a little easier.