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I’m Getting Too Old for This

December 7, 2012

Nantucket 2010 030I met up with an old business colleague while in New York City for a meeting. He had tracked me down through the miracle of LinkedIn. We hadn’t seen each other in over twenty years, back when we worked together as two young bucks in a small management consulting firm.

I was curious about his career path, and what had become of him –  or someone like him, I should say. At that time, in my mind he was untouchable: a pedigreed Harvard MBA; a high-caliber superstar who was smart, ambitious, the whole package. He was charging hard and fast to make a name for himself, as was I.

We met on a rainy afternoon at the Starbucks across from my hotel. I ran inside to find him sitting at the window counter, his slouched reflection staring back at him like an old joke while the raindrops pelted madly against the gray glass. He had a little less hair, a bit more paunch, and when he stood up to greet me he was slightly taller than I had remembered.

There was something sad about him, too. He had a weathered and worn-down look, the kind you get from being beat up by life a bit. I only recognized it because I know all about it, first-hand.

He probably saw the same in me.

We got caught up on our families and careers, gossiped about our old boss, and then he recounted some risky business moves that sounded great but had not turned out so well for him, or his family. He finally settled with a stable job at a firm in NYC where he is able to maintain a decent lifestyle and get his kids through college.

We talked about the ups and downs of our careers, the trying and failures, and the shifting priorities that come with getting older. Status, recognition, world domination – that stuff isn’t as shiny as it once was. We both agreed, what’s important now is stability, our families, the ability to shrug off the stressors of life.

He then started laughing and pulled out his i-phone to show me something. It was a chart of some sort.

“Have you seen this?” he asked.

It was a simple graph, with “Age” on the horizontal axis, and “Give a Sh*t” on the vertical axis. “Look,” he pointed. “The further to the right you go, the lower the line descends.” In other words, the older you get, the less you care. About what people think. About pushing your ideas around. About taking over the world.  Priorities shift with perspective and experience.

I laughed, a hard laugh of recognition.

To be continued. 

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. December 7, 2012 6:35 am

    A cliff hanger so early…Heh!

    Seems like a familiar conversation lately…at least in my circles. But still a nice dream…

    Hope things are going well Sir, and Spain still lingers…it is still my favorite trip we have taken!

    E A STelling

    • December 8, 2012 12:04 pm

      Hey there, E. Thanks for stopping by for a read. Yes, Madrid was everything we expected, and more!

  2. December 7, 2012 6:47 am

    Looking forward to where you are going with this!

  3. Susan DiMickele permalink
    December 7, 2012 7:25 am

    Love the graph. I knew there was something I liked about getting older.

    • December 8, 2012 12:06 pm

      I also remember that movie, “Fried Green Tomatoes,” (I think that’s the one?) with Kathy Bates, where she loses a grocery store parking spot to an aggressive young lady who gets out of the car and taunts her saying, “I’m faster, younger, and prettier than you.” Then Kathy Bates rams her car into the horrified young lady’s, and says, “Yeah, I’m older, and I have more insurance.” I laughed so hard at that.

  4. December 7, 2012 9:24 am

    The shine wears off world domination? Granted it’s a joke now, but I don’t see that joke ever getting old!

    • December 7, 2012 1:12 pm

      Marcus – the difference is individual/ego vs. organizational. I don’t think an organizational vision of “world dominance” would ever grow old. That is inspiring, and purposeful. However, as an individual, ego-driven ambition to take over the world and make your mark, well that can get exhausting after a while.

  5. December 7, 2012 9:30 am

    This is such a familiar story for those of us in this season of life. My guess is that you will share with us how you were able to shed some light on the situation with your friend in the manner of taking the sharp-edge off of the connotation of his graph description of his view on life. My wife recently purchased one of those nifty boutique gift shop items with the clever saying on them that she now has displayed in front of our kitchen sink. It states: “There is a special beauty in each season of our lives”.

  6. December 7, 2012 1:15 pm

    Interested to see how faith responds to a dejected heart. There is always hope in .. (to be continued next week). :).

  7. December 7, 2012 2:22 pm

    Awesome post. I bet that line on the chart isn’t a continuing straight line, or begins to slope down after a certain age. I’m 24 now, I realized how quickly I’m moving through my twenties and as each year passes I feel like I should have more to show for my life. But considering that I have no kids or husband yet, I can understand why my priorities are more about “changing the world” and becoming successful. I’m working on my DBA and I will be a doctor in business before I’m 28 but I still called my mother crying yesterday because I feel like “I haven’t done anything in life” lol (drama queen) I guess it starts at age 35 when you begin to no longer give a s***! 😀

  8. December 7, 2012 2:51 pm

    What goes up, must come down.
    Work your butt off, get out of town.
    Black to white, white to black.
    Looking forward, looking back.

  9. December 8, 2012 9:03 am

    Waiting…

  10. December 8, 2012 10:41 am

    I’m eager to read the second half. Because I think there’s a difference between contentment and resignation. Eager to see how the rest went!

  11. sawyerspeaks permalink
    December 8, 2012 10:54 am

    I’m eager to take over this blog, charge ahead and read the rest. OK, not that eager because I’m tired. OK, I won’t try to take over this blog. OK, I’ll just here peacefully and wait. OK, I’ll lie down.

  12. December 8, 2012 1:59 pm

    Here’s the chart he referred to, btw.
    http://mariopiperni.com/stuff/chart-of-the-day-the-ageshit-continuum.php

  13. December 9, 2012 11:48 pm

    I’ve not seen this graph before but it certainly resonates–at least more on some days than others.

  14. December 10, 2012 1:15 pm

    I know that my perspective changes. I am not as concerned about what others think about me. But I hope as I age that I don’t quit trying — language, bathing, attitude. That stuff is still important. The other, not so much

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