Everything Is Fuel for the Fire

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I've spent the past few years (at least) trying to sort out aging from oldness. Anyone who's read me even a little probably picks up on that.

It's not a serious project. I just think about cliches and stereotypes a lot, and try to avoid them while noting how easily they slip into my routines. Clothing is an obvious and easily addressed example. Don't dress like an old person. Problem solved.

I read something recently that pondered the adjective old, I think coming down on the side of it being a pejorative, but maybe not an extreme one. Whatever. I know what I mean. It is a pejorative.

Something not to be done or admired, then. I'm OK with being senior, being elder, being a demographic statistic. Even being a drag on society. I just don't want to get old before it stops being important that I'm being anything.

So yeah. Don't wear white sneakers. Don't wear dad jeans, or whatever they're called, those loose-fitting approximations of the material formerly known as denim. For God's sake, don't wear sweat pants to the grocery store; it's embarrassing for all of us. Have some self-respect.

Most of my admonitions are directed at men, because I'm a man and also because most of the older women in my life seem to be doing just fine without advice from me. They know exactly who they are and at what stage of life. None of them attempt to dress or act younger than they are, and of course they seem much more youthful because of it. Dunno. Men are dense, maybe.

At least I am, so I need reminders. Never flirt with young women; it's kind of abusive and usually just awful to watch. Never tuck your T-shirt into your shorts. Think carefully before wearing shorts. Et cetera.

Also? Don't vote for TV stars when it comes to the highest office in the land.


Habits are the monkey wrench in this process. Habits will make you old before your time. Habits will pour concrete over your life and leave it that way. Your face is going to freeze like that, you know.

But you can't avoid it. We form habits for very good reasons; they manage the chaos, eliminate decisions that we don't care to make every day of our dwindling lives.

But it's so easy, and that's what scares me. I'm not talking about dangerous habits, just innocuous ones that nevertheless seal off our lives from the possibility of change. This gets worse, it seems to me, as we age.

I've talked about sugar and baking and all things holiday. I really did surrender to the season this year, for good reason, wanting to find joy wherever I could. I learned a few things and enjoyed myself immensely, and breakfast was always a lot of fun.

And the habit stuck around. I feel as though I've been weaning myself off the snacking in the past week, but it's still alarming at how quickly I accepted the new sugar regime. There was no moment in which a cookie was inappropriate. And there are a lot of moments in your average day.

It's not a problem. It's not a health issue, or a weight issue, or even a dental issue. It's just a habit, one I'd rather not own, and things will be fine. Just another example of the utility of eternal vigilance, which has become pretty useful itself of late. Always pay attention.


So I've noticed that I've developed a little shopping habit. An Amazon habit to be specific (if not synonymous). It's not scary at all, only a couple of small things that seem dumb in retrospect. And then a couple of small, recent things.

They didn't cost me, actually, since I noticed a nice rewards balance after Christmas. Free stuff. I got it.

It's not the stuff. It's the constant emails and articles that point me toward great deals, only $28.99. That's hardly going to break the bank unless you get those emails and articles several times a day. And you obey.

One more habit to break, then. The momentary burst of pleasure I get when I hear the UPS truck and know that my brand-new surge protector has finally arrived is fun, but I've got to let it go. I know this.

Because I'm obviously not getting any younger, and that implies that I'm getting something else. Something, as I say, I'd like to avoid as long as possible.

It's a great surge protector, by the way. FYI.

Waiting for the Wells Fargo wagon (The Music Man)

Waiting for the Wells Fargo wagon (The Music Man)

Chuck SigarsComment