Here we are, January 17th, and I’m already reflecting on the year.
Every year, around this time, I think, “Well, this year has to be better than the last year, and fate somehow finds a way to say, “You thought that was bad; try this.” That’s getting old, honestly.
Recapping the last few years, best friends suicide, six months lost to back pain, ongoing infections, spots on organs that we’re going to “wait and see on,” indifference in relationships.. Oddly COVID Lockdown not one of those “bad” things. I like the excuse not to go out much.
And, looking forward to 2023, I realized that I don’t have anything on the docket to look forward to at the moment — just more of the same old; more back pain, job stress, and indifference in relationships. An accelerating spiral.
I think this is what happens to dudes when we get old. We start to withdraw from things. Years ago, I was visiting a synagogue in California, and a woman I’d just met told me she was picking up an older man in the congregation in the morning. She was going to bring him to shul. “What is it about old men that they just stop socializing and drop out of society?” Asked rhetorically, of course. Sort of. I missed the rhetorical nuance and responded, “I don’t know exactly, but I kind of get it.”
The older I get, the more I “get it.” I don’t have an answer for it, but I get it. Interestingly, younger generations feel that something needs to be “fixed” here and want to send the old dudes to therapy or whatever. An article in the New York Times right around New Year’s, “Getting men into therapy, why is it so hard?”
Personally, $100.00 an hour is the main reason.
There’s also a real stigma with mental health. Years ago, I was thinking about freelancing and going on my own. Hah.. as Garth Brooks once said, “thank G-d for unanswered prayers.” The main reason I didn’t do it was healthcare. Having had a bout of melanoma, I was uninsurable. If I could find a policy, it would be ridiculously expensive, and it would have had riders excluding cancer treatments from any coverage. Which begs the question, what’s the point?
Don’t tell me socialized medicine restricts choices.
The point is, if a person was being treated for depression at the time, that would also disqualify them from private health care coverage.
This is an indictment on our health care in this country, for one thing. But it’s also a pretty good argument for anyone who might need to pay for their healthcare that they should take steps to avoid a diagnosis that might put their ability to acquire said healthcare, in jeopardy.
Today things have changed, at least I think they have. Thanks to Obama, pre-existing clauses have, for the most part, been gutted. I think that’s the case, anyway. I also know that the Republicans have done everything possible to decimate Obamacare. And what will they replace it with? As they say in Italy: Ugatz.
So here we are at the beginning of the year, and I’ve already missed a huge four-day professional event in New York that I should have attended because, honestly, it sets up my whole year. I passed and prioritized my health for once because while I have periods of near-normal activity and movement, they last for an hour or so, then I need to sit down. And sitting, that lasts about an hour before I’m not so comfortable anymore, so I have to stand back up.. rinse and repeat. I felt, and Mrs. S. and my boss felt, that tooling around New York for four days would exacerbate the issue. Given the discomfort I’m in this morning and the idea of 20,000 steps a day, Yuppers.
Missing this event has brought some thoughts of my eminent retirement, aka delicate, to the front of my consciousness. Declining both professionally and socially.
I am realizing that, like the old dude who asks himself on his death bed; “what really mattered?” A lot of the stuff that I enjoyed or thought was important in my younger days can also be qualified as “ugatz.” Aka crap.
I was thinking about that over the summer when I was confined to an office chair. I thought I’d break out the stamp collection and do some work on it. Putzing work, which is what you do with stamps. Mrs. S. Made the comment that stamp collecting was the dude’s equivalent of scrapbooking. Talk about a buzz kill. Scrapbooking is a pastime I’ve made fun of quite a bit in my time. Collecting stamps, sadly it’s the kind of hobby that you can use the “tell me you’re an old fart without telling me you’re an old fart” meme with.
How do I know that? I’ve noticed that when I do buy stamps, dealers send them to me in letters addressed with 50-year-old stamps. It tells me they also realize this is a dead hobby, and no one cares. So, they might as well get the face value from their collections. This was confirmed, by the way, when an older guy in the Masonic Lodge wanted to donate his entire collection of plate blocks (Four stamps connected) to the Lodge, not for their great historical or monetary value, mind you, but so we could use them for postage. Sad.
So, with some emotion, I’m looking to give away my collection, 50 years of work that was for naught. It feels like it was a colossal waste of time and money. I’ve enjoyed the stamps, but I also realize that when I’m gone, the kids will get rid of them anyway, probably in a dumpster. I like to say I have two piles of stuff I’m working on. Shit, I’m going to throw away, and shit, you’re going to throw away when I die.
And that’s the brutal part of aging, the realization that you are, in the scheme of things, ugaz.
Bit of a downer, sorry about that, but after starting the year off with a swing and a miss and experiencing that feeling of being less relevant than ever, I do understand the natural inclination to withdraw and disengage. In my case, maybe retire to the cabin and wait for the inevitable. I have to reassess my value prop and find something to look forward to.
Maybe I should get a dog.