No One Told Me That Getting Older Meant That You Literally Just Keep Aging Until You Die!

Illustration for article titled No One Told Me That Getting Older Meant That You Literally Just Keep Aging Until You Die!
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In the last three weeks, I’ve flown to Los Angeles for an event with The Glow Up; to Durham, N.C., for a wedding; and to Austin, Texas, to speak at the University of Texas. Which means that because Pittsburgh is Pittsburgh, and apparently the only place to which our airport has direct flights is McKeesport, I’ve flown from Pittsburgh to Phoenix and then from Phoenix to Los Angeles. And then from Los Angeles to Dallas. And then from Dallas to Pittsburgh. And then, a week later, from Pittsburgh straight to Durham. And then from Durham to Charlotte. And then from Charlotte to Austin. And then from Austin to Dallas. And then from Dallas to Pittsburgh.


Today, as I’m sitting and writing this, it feels like a posse of melancholy raccoons are practicing Zumba on my sciatic nerve. The several multiple-hour-long plane rides in a 10-day span have turned my back into a batch of white people’s potato salad. It’s so fucked up that I’m committed to flying first-class whenever I’m on a flight longer than 90 minutes. Right now, though, it just has me getting up to stretch and walk every 15 minutes because if I sit for longer than that, I turn into Fred Sanford.

I went to the doctor last week to see about it, and she gave me a script to get an X-ray and a number to a physical therapist. No remedies, though. She might as well have just said, “Tough luck, old nigga” and given me a prescription for Vitamin Water.

I am also, right now, drinking some sort of green liquid that I was told was a concoction of cucumber, kale, ginger, apples, oranges and kombucha. It tastes like something I’d spread on a sidewalk to melt ice, but apparently, it is good for my bowels. I need to take care of my bowels. My bowels are a thing I need to take care of, like my credit and my backyard (if I had one).

Last night, I played basketball at LA Fitness. And I played quite well, if I say so myself. My team won every game (five, I think), and with my beard and my handle and my J and my conditional defense, I do a pretty solid old-man’s James Harden impression.

And I feel an extra pressure to perform well while playing these days because of how long it takes for me to get ready to play now. From the time I got to the gym to the time I was on the court, 22 minutes had passed, and for the last nine of those minutes, the rest of the guys on the court were waiting for me to get ready.

It took four minutes to take off my sweats and place them in my gym bag in a neat fashion, five minutes to get my shorts and knee brace and shoes on, four more minutes to check my emails and tweets (because I’m important) and then nine minutes to do my warmup routine, because if I try to run without getting warm first, I will definitely sprain a spleen muscle.


Why am I sharing all of this with you today? I don’t really have a concrete reason. I guess I’m just bummed that no one told me that getting older meant that you, well, just keep on aging!

And this becomes paradoxical, because you don’t want to stop aging (because, um, that means you’re dead), but the only way to keep living is to keep getting older and watch as the bag of meat and bones that comprise your body become more and more annoyed with you.


“Leave me alone, you bag of meat and bones!” you’re compelled to scream sometimes. But you don’t, because you’d just be screaming at yourself, and raising your voice too much hurts your back now, too.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)


King Beauregard

Don’t forget the other side of aging, though: you also get tons better at living. I think back to the issues that vexed me in my 20s, and with what I know now, I could slide through 90% of it like it was nothing. I’ve got a lot more inner calm because I am no longer my own worst enemy like I was (now other people are my worst enemy, and yes I have a list). If the tradeoff is that, at 51, I wake up in the morning and make noises like an angry Yosemite Sam for a little while as my muscles protest wakefulness, I think I’ll take that tradeoff.