Tag Archives: aging

Passing a Marker on the Road of Life

By Jason Menard

The candles have been blown out, the cards have been opened, the well-wishes received, and now I’ve entered birthday purgatory. Today (June 13) I turned the non-descript age of 32 – and I’m left wondering how I should feel and how I should celebrate.

Earlier in our lives, each birthday is an event. And, for some, that sense of celebration continues on year after year, throughout their lives. For others, the passing of each birthday is a depressing reminder of the loss of youth, or the fear of time slipping through our grasp.

Then there are people like me who don’t fit into either camp. While not wallowing in a pit of depression over the addition of another candle to our cake, we’re not much for celebrating our birthdays either. And this feeling of ennui is amplified by the fact that I’m now in this birthday hinterland.

Taking stock of my life to this point, I’m very happy with where I am. I have a wonderful wife and two amazing kids that inspire me and make me laugh each and every day. I have my family and a few close friends, a good job, a roof over my head, and food on the table. Life is good.

Better yet, this past year has seen the waistline recede, the hairline hold its ground, and only a few more grey hairs joining the fray. As the chairman sang, “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.” All of which could explain why I’m looking at this birthday with all the interest of a road sign on the highway. Interesting as a notification of where we’re heading, these birthdays certainly aren’t worth stopping to admire.

You see, the people who came up with the concept of wedding anniversaries got it right. They knew that, other than the big commemorative years, the majority of those middling years need something to give them a kick in the pants. So, instead of relying on the public to come up with ideas, they decided to take the thought process out of the equation and spoon-feed us celebratory themes. Wood, paper, gold, silver – it’s all laid out for us in easy-to-follow steps.

But what about birthdays? For my kids, each and every passing year is an exciting event. They’re ferociously striving to shed their youth, just as my wife and I work just as hard to hold on to its diminishing vestiges. Then there are the biggies – 13, 16, 18, 19, 21, 25, 30… There’s much to look forward to, and the next big celebration is no more than a few years away.

Then we hit our 30s and we’re stuck in the middle between adulthood and youth. I’m not old enough to be considered a sage, elder statesman, but I’m apparently old enough to see my youth the subject of countless nostalgia specials. I’m not young enough to get away with the follies of youth anymore, but I’m still young enough to feel youthful most of the time – which is a good thing. Best of all, I’m still on the right side of the grass, so I’ve got nothing to complain about.

So where’s my guide? Where’s my Hallmark-created step-by-step guide to aging? How do I best commemorate reaching an age where one day I’ll feel older than my years, and the next I’ll question who decided that I was mature enough to handle a family? Or will the uncertainty of these non-descript birthday years help the transition from youth to maturity?

With that in mind, I tip my hat to the passing of my 32 nd birthday, content in knowing that I’m still racing down the road of life, hoping to get to where I want to go. And as I pass that highway marker saying “40 – 8 years” I know that I don’t have to stop and take stock of the road behind me just yet. I’m not yet where I want to be, but I’m on my way. Besides, where would the fun be if all my goals were already reached? There’s still the open road ahead, with all its twists and turns to both endure and enjoy – and there are thousands of stops that I’ll be making along the way in the future.

But for today, I will pause to appreciate the scenery around me and who my driving companions are. It’s not the final destination that matters, it’s appreciating the route we take to get there.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

Aging — It’s as Plain as the Nose on Your Face

By Jason Menard

It finally happened. The last, slender thread that tied me to the thought of youthfulness has been severed. And the instrument that finally cut the cord? A nose-hair trimmer.

I’ve jumped the shark. Really, when you’ve made the purchase of something to remove what is delicately referred to as “unsightly hair,” there’s no turning back. Although I’m not yet at the point where I’m buying sans-a-belt slacks that come up over my navel, I’m certainly much closer today than I was last week.

Physically, I’m still young – or youngish, at least. At only 31 I really don’t have a right to be complaining about aging. In fact, those of you older than me are probably thinking – rightfully so – that I should quit my bellyachin’ and be happy with what I’ve got.

And I am… It’s just that an emotional threshold has been crossed. I’ve had friends who found turning 30 difficult, but I was not one of them. At 30 – and even at 31, until what I’d like to refer to as the Remington Incident – I embraced my youthfulness. But now, emotionally, I’ve come to a crossroads in my life. It seems that getting to the point where shaving and hair cuts are no longer enough in terms of grooming is nature’s way of letting you know where you stand.

I handled the graying at the temples with aplomb, turning to Maurice Richard for inspiration (“I keep a touch of gray at the sides – my wife likes it!) I battled the bulge and am now in better physical shape than I was at 21. And while marriage and two children have matured me, I was still able to retain a semblance of youthfulness in my mind.

But now that’s changed – and it all started so innocently. Recently, walking through one of those ubiquitous grocery store/mega stores looking for a hair dryer I picked up a “personal trimmer,” and looked at it with amusement. That was, at least, until my wife peered over my shoulder and said, “That’s a great idea, you should get one of those!”

Now, I’ve never been overly hirsute. I’ve never been afflicted with the monobrow and my back is relatively free of hair. Sure, I’ve got chest hair but nothing out of the ordinary. And maybe my 5:00 shadow tends to show up a little earlier. I’ve been able to make jokes about my appearance for years – saying the wisps of hair that grace my neckline are, in fact, reinforcements on the way to battle the receding hair line! But when my wife suggested that I was in need of extra grooming, I was a bit taken aback.

I tried to laugh it off, but she persisted, her delicate finger pointing towards my previously pristine (or so I thought) proboscis. It was at that moment, with a simple gesture of caring for my appearance that those last vestiges of youthfulness drifted away. I had reached the point of no return.

Really, I should have seen it coming. If I haven’t fully embraced the concept of metrosexuality, I am aware of it presence and I don’t go out of my way to ignore its teachings. I’ve watched Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and taken a few mental notes. But I was blinded by this follicular revelation.

In fact, my wife’s even tried to gracefully prepare me for this moment. A few months back, she caught sight of an overly-ambitious eyebrow hair that didn’t know its place in life. I had always assumed that eyebrows were like a little socialist collective – all working together on an equal level to do whatever their job it is to do. But no, one decided to aspire to be something greater than it was – perhaps looking for a promotion to the scalp – and needed to be plucked. And there, I thought I was done.

But no, The Remington Incident (as I type this, it’s growing in importance to me – hence the capitalization of the T) begat the savage pillaging of the facial hair. It seems my socialist collective of eyebrows spawned a few breakaway republics which just didn’t do. And my wife, seeing my acquiescence to the concept of more fastidious personal grooming, leapt upon me with tweezers in hand.

Alas, I can see this is just the beginning of another – much more painful — stage in my life. If I can adjust to the concept of self-inflicted pain (is there no better way to remove hair than forcefully plucking it from its happy home?), I can adjust to my transition out of youth.

Because now the nose knows the truth. We go through many stages of life, many of which we mark in terms of achievements: a first day at school, getting your drivers’ licence, voting, a first home – but maybe a better indicator of where we are is as plain as the nose hair on our face!

And don’t think I haven’t started to keep an eye on my ears – I’m not ready for a mid-life crisis just yet!

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved