At age 8, image is driven by hair color. Given the fact that I repeatedly had to respond with violence to the phrase, “Rather be dead than red on the head,” you know how that worked out.
At age 16, image is enhanced – or more likely, deflated – by the type of car one drives. Fortunately, I had a used ’67 Ford Mustang. And fortunately, few of my friends new it lacked a driver-side floorboard and that it was full of bondo.
At age 21 – and sadly, throughout most of our adult lives – image is equated with body type. At this age, I must admit I had it going on. I worked out like a madman, ran, played sports…did it all. Life was good.
At age 30, image is often associated with career choice. Mine has been an unusual path, including stops in video production, event management, corporate communications, marketing, and a self-employment in all of the aforementioned lines of work. It’s been an interesting endeavor, but let’s just say that my wake will double as my retirement party.
And then there’s age 50. I stepped over that threshhold a year ago and was welcomed to The Club by many of my friends and family. The Club? What Club? It took a while to understand what it means to transition into the self realization and peaceful acceptance that defines the essence of The Club. At this juncture, I am now a card-carrying member.
To be clear, not everyone over the age of 50 is a member of The Club. And not every member is 50. That’s because membership does not come easily. It’s a state of mind not a number, so it requires more than a passive entry. Most this age remain obsessed by physical and materialistic compulsions that continue to define who they are, how they feel about themselves, and how they believe the world views them.
In The Club, hair color doesn’t matter…most of mine is gone. My ride? A nine-year-old Toyota Highlander that’s pushing 200,000 miles. My body? Have you read any of my blog posts? My career? Still diggin’ what I have done for 30-plus years, accomplishing much, meeting many an interesting character, and enduring challenges that have turned a once fire-red beard to a more sophisticated Santa Claus white.
For the first time, I feel liberated. Completely unencumbered by the opinions of others. No longer haunted by feelings of inadequacy. I am me, and I don’t give a damn what others think. Oh sure, I’d like us to be friends, and I am proud to have as many of you as I do. But if it doesn’t work out, that’s okay. I’ll go my way, you’ll go yours, and we’ll continue cruising down the long road ahead with our liberated hearts and minds in tact.
Liberation does not come as a benevolent gift handed to us by the overlords of all that is stylish, socially acceptable, or financially sound. Liberation comes from within. It’s a sudden moment of consciousness when stress and concern melt away, except for the realization that you matter, those you love matter, what you love matters, and little else matters.
Liberation. Embrace it. And when you do, I will enthusiastically welcome you to The Club.