The Varicose Vigilantes: On Aging and Driving

As I was driving the other day I came upon a police speed trap. Out of reflex I looked down to my speedometer, silently saying “Oh, *#+*.” Strangely, I saw that I was actually driving UNDER the speed limit.

How did this happen? Did I suddenly grow old?

You know what I mean. We spend our youth pushing the limits. We see elderly drivers moving at snail-speed and want to shake our fists and say, “Get off the road, Gramps!” Life is always up ahead of us, something to be chased and embraced, if we can ever catch it.

Inside I still feel the same “me” as I did when I was 18. I can strut my stuff with the best of them. Robert Redford’s got nothing on me. But, damn, Robert Redford looks OLD!

How did this happen? Am I like some old air mattress that has sprung a slow leak, until it lies limp on the floor, all hardness and usefulness gone? Hell, no. I’m still the same me. Yeah, I’ve got some wear on my tires. I might squeak and squeal a little as I round the corners. But I can still hold the road and there’s some wear left in these old wheels. I can see Robert Redford up ahead of me. From the back he looks okay, except for that little bald spot on the top of his head that he hides as best he can. And that little sag in the jeans, and that hitch in his step.

I remember when 40 was OLD. Now 40 is prime. 80 looks old, but not like it used to. In fact, 80 doesn’t seem so bad. I hope to get there some day. I suppose it is inevitable that someday, hopefully not too soon, some young kid is going to shake his fist as he drives past, saying, “Get off the road, Gramps!” Will that suck, or what?

Actually, I don’t think so. I think that I will have earned such praise. I will have passed beyond always looking ahead and never seeing the NOW. I’ll be driving to BE there, not GET there. I’ll be smelling the roses and relaxing back in my seat enjoying the ride. No, aging isn’t so bad, as long as we keep a young mind and don’t get stuck in place. They even have a lane on the highway just for us. We used to call it the “slow lane.” I think it should be called the “experienced lane,” or the “wise lane.” That’s what I think. Because I’ve got a lot of experience in this old body. It might take me a bit longer to get this old thing rolling. But once I am moving, look out ‘cause my foot is still pressed down. It just won’t reach the floor like it used to.

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