Time is weird. As humans, we have a really strange relationship with time. On the one hand, we can watch a 25 minute sitcom and it seems like it takes an eternity. On the other, years can pass by in the blink of an eye.
Fifty years ago, the Atari video game console was born. No. Not the one you’re thinking of. I mean the one that played a single game – Pong. 1972 was also a big year for formality in marketing as Mr. Pibb and Mr. Coffee were both born.
It seems like an eternity ago. And yet much of our current culture is based in the early 70’s like Scooby Doo and Mission Impossible.
This week, I also turn 50 years old and I’m really struggling with how my brain is processing time. It really seems like a week ago when I was skipping classes to go eat hot wings and chug beers at CJ’s Wings in Columbia, Missouri. But then I remember that was the early 90’s. I am still watching the same sci-fi series that I watched in the 80’s like Star Wars, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica. (That’s the one with the Cylons, Ivan) And I can still remember the pennant wheel I had in my bedroom in the 70’s filled with all of the baseball teams of the American League. The California Angels. The Milwaukee Brewers.
These don’t feel old to me. They don’t even particularly feel nostalgic. I remember playing Pong, however, and that felt old when I was playing it. Time is weird. Time likes to lie.
Fifty, to me, hasn’t really been a milestone year. Neither was forty or thirty, frankly. I guess we all used to think of 50 as “old” or “veteran” or whatever. You don’t see any Major League players playing into even their mid-forties. And you realize that your body does tend to slow down a little bit. There are still those random aches and pains at random times. My favorite is the ankle pain simply getting out of bed. How on earth did I hurt my ankle in the seven hours sleeping?
But I don’t feel as old as Pong. David Tennant is my Doctor Who, not Jon Pertwee. I don’t even like Mr. Pibb.
Old is simply a construct. Of course, you only hear old people say that. If I were to walk up to a random 24-year-old, they’d say I was “old af.” (I think the ‘af’ means all fun!) For me, I think 50 simply means I have a few more memories than most and I can’t race my kid to the end of the street any longer. Otherwise, I feel the same. I’ve been pretty blessed with good health and only a slight drinking problem. My real problem is gas station roller food. But that’s another topic for another day.
Yet, I do feel more.. mature? No, that’s not the right word. Veteran? No. Worldly? That’s closer. It’s a weird feeling. I feel like I should be sharing my experiences more. I was going to say wisdom, but most of what I have to share is just dumb stuff I did. I tell my kid all the time about the dumb things I did so hopefully he doesn’t go out and do the same dumb things. (He often does.)
But I feel more responsible to share what I’ve learned over these 50 years. I feel like maybe there might be someone out there who could learn from it. Even framing it up as “advice” or “wisdom” seems too over the top. So I’ll just say this…
Nothing ever was gained by staying still. Things are only learned by doing or by acting. For me, this often meant crashing into a wall or, in my case, crashing into the ocean floor. But those are the experiences that spurn action. I spent a ton of my life standing still and waiting for life to “happen” and it wasn’t until I started doing that I learned – quickly – that life is out there. I’m thankful that I didn’t learn it too late. I am thankful that I am only 50. I am thankful that I have outlived Pong.
(Get more thoughts from the 50-year-old Chris Kamler on Twitter where he is known as @TheFakeNed)