When it comes to mortality, and specifically, the understanding that we all, eventually, must recognize our limitations, I’ve always said that the only true undefeated heavyweight champion is Father Time. He wins every time…he gets all of us. In other words, put bluntly; we all get old, we all decay, and we all die.
Although it seems as though lately, Father Time is slacking off.
Years ago, it became nouveau to exclaim that “50 is the new 40,” or whatever decade dissolving version suited the speaker. And certainly, it is undeniable that modern medicine, a better understanding of self-care, and a drive to stay relevant and active has motivated a large portion of our society to find ways to stay relevant, hip, and flourishing.
We’ve talked about this phenomenon for a while, and now, as the world rejoins normalcy, we see again the same trends we’ve been seeing for years; adults previously described as “middle-aged,” are going to, hanging out with, partying with, and sometimes dating (or marrying eh-hem) people half their age. And everyone is having a good time doing it. For the most part, the “older” women aren’t accused of “trying too hard,” and the men aren’t seen as creeps. In fact, dudes in their 20’s with mommy issues are discovering that women in their 40’s can be funny, fun, and sometimes hot as hell. Women in their 20’s who find their dads to be “adorable,” at best, are realizing that other men his same age are actually capable of more than just dad jokes, constantly bringing the room down with safety speeches, and unpleasant bodily noises.
Nowhere is this new-found delay in aging more on display than the sports world, especially now. Tom Brady just won his seventh Super Bowl in one of the most brutal games played at the age of 43; and plans to play to at least 45 (and probably longer). Mike Tyson is 54 years old and is back to boxing…and he isn’t just boxing, he looks menacing, fast, focused, and filled with precision. If you have a 3 at the beginning of your age, you have no business playing competitive tennis and yet Serena Williams won her sixth Wimbledon title at the age of 33, and is still winning at age 39! In fact, the tennis world is currently dominated by 30-year-olds, which is historically unheard of. Mere moments ago, 51-year-old Phil Mickelson became the oldest golfer in history to win a major tournament; and he didn’t just win it, he dominated it. And while it’s fun and easy to pick on golf, it is undeniably one of the most physically demanding and grueling activities which has destroyed more backs and knees than can be counted.
It used to be that when people tried to “hold on to their youth,” it was pathetic and sad to watch, but too many people are doing it too well now to let it go unnoticed.
Some of the most hip, relevant, and influential people are of the “age” that used to be relegated to those who were “on their way out.” It’s always been known that men, for example, hit the peak of their earning power between 45-55 years old, but they were also seen as the elder statesmen of whatever industry they were in; now, they ARE the industry that they’re in, and most seem to have no intention to quietly step aside, nor do they appear as though they need to.
Joe Rogan is 53, Elon Musk 49, Matthew McConaughey 51, Will Smith 52, and Andy Cohen is 52, and all of them (and so many more), regardless of what you personally may think of them, are at the top of their chosen fields and wield massive amounts of power and influence across various parts of our society.
Judy Sheindlin, AKA “Judge Judy,” is wildly popular amongst all age groups, still wicked smart, and just signed a new contract for a new show said to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. 57-year-old Michelle Obama speaks and everyone other than hard-line Republicans (and racists) pays attention. I’m no fan of Gwyneth Paltrow, but at the age of 48, she and her goopiness remain wildly relevant to millions of people. Jennifer Aniston looks nowhere close to 52 years old and is beloved and influential to almost all.
And don’t use the tired and lazy argument that everyone I’ve mentioned by name is a celebrity…of course they are! This entire soapbox would make no sense if I referenced my 65-year-old friend Tony and my 52-year-old friend Ralph. And that’s the point…it’s simply false and pathetic to claim that only rich and famous people are defying age because they have trainers, nutritionists, and surgery at their disposal. 1995 called and wants its’ excuse back.
None of this is to assert that the always trend-setting under 40 crowd has lost its’ cache. Not at all; they just no longer own it in the way it was once demanded. There’s actually space for all of us at the table of hipness and for the first time in my (long) lifetime, the older seem more accepting of the younger, and the younger see more of a value to the older. This is what we call progress.
Certainly all of this could seem quite self-serving coming from a guy mere months from his 50th birthday and nowhere near in the same shape as fellow half-century celebrators Hugh Jackman, Dwayne Johnson, George Clooney, and Brad Pitt. Although, I do have a much hotter wife than all of them so there’s that.
People who truly know me know that none of this is about me, nor is it new. I have always hated people who use age, large or small, as an excuse or explanation for anything. I know plenty of people my age who are wildly immature and irresponsible, while simultaneously having to remind myself that some of the most impressive people in my life are so relatively young.
So, to summarize, screw you, father time. While none of us will ever be able to beat you, you aren’t as formidable a foe as you once were. Jerk.