What I’ve learned at 55

Yikes! It’s that time again – another birthday. I was told that after the age of 25 the years would just tick, tick, tick away, and they do. It seems like it was just yesterday when college bound friends and I embarked on our collective journey to “change the world.”

Over 30 years have passed since college, and now those who were employed by government and industry are retiring! At 55 I know two groups of people: those who are about to retire and others who will be like the fashion icon that slumped over dead covering an event at 95 years old.

I’ve assembled a few witticisms that have accompanied my reaching this age. They are as follows:

1. Success is a relative term. You’re as successful as you allow yourself to be. And only you can define your individual success. “Mirror, mirror on the wall…”

2. “I yam what I yam.” Embrace the idea that you are who you are, or as my cartoon hero Popeye puts it, “I yam what I yam.”

3. Everything is temporary – don’t get attached to anything material because it’s all just “stuff.” Or as Tolle says, “We all have something in common with each other, whether it’s 2 years or 70 years we’ll all be rotting corpses, then dust and then nothing.” The earth will continue to spin without you.

4. Money=Power – Don’t believe the hype; it’s the 2 percent that have all the power. Unless you’re financially independent, you have as much power as your net worth. Even so-called social justice parties have been contaminated by money as paid operatives have replaced the political foot soldiers. Political committees have fallen apart as people lose faith in voting for Twiddle Dee or Twiddle Dumber. It’s time to face the fact that at all levels we have the best government money can buy.

5. Embrace your age. As my Pastor says, “It’s better to be seen than viewed,” so instead of obsessing over lost youth, enjoy the skin you’re in. Being older is better than being dead.

6. Free press. Anger the wrong politician or University President and see what happens to you. I’ve had powerful people attempt to silence my voice. “Leave the University alone” was one message delivered to me after a meeting with (fill in name here). There are other more direct efforts to silence me, however… (censored by author).

7. Rejecting the AARP Card. I can paper the bathroom wall with invitations sent by the senior advocacy group to join their group of happy older people… I won’t go willingly!

8. Shake it off. Have you ever watched a dog after an incident or upon completion of training or reprimand? The dog will shake it off and then he’s on to the next adventure. Learn from a dog and “shake it off” sometimes.

9. Denny’s. At 55 I’m a senior! Discounts on breakfasts!

10. 55 Plus Magazine. I’m now the age of people who grace the cover of 55 Magazine.

11. Girls can be bullies too… (see number 6). Not calling any names, I’m just sayin’… Or as James Brown sang, “It’s a man’s world but it’s nothing without a woman or a girl.”

Originally Posted May 6, 2012