Saturday, February 18, 2006

Schprock at 50: A Quick Status Report

I just read an article in The Boston Globe about how men these days are less inclined to color their hair when it starts going grey. It seems that if the guy keeps himself fit, then that’s all that’s needed to give him the feeling of retaining his youth. Some men prefer to manage their greyness, achieving just the right mix of grey with their original natural hair color. And there are plenty of women who report that they go for the salt-and-pepper look. Apparently they think it’s “sexy.”

Well, you can survey the Schprock scalp all you want and not find a single grey hair. Nary a one. Why this is, I can’t explain, except that it took my father a long time to go grey, so I probably inherited this trait from him. A friend of mine has accused me several times of dyeing my hair. He claims every time he sees me, my hair seems to get darker and darker. But the truth is, the only thing I do to my hair is wash it.

So as I take careful inventory of myself on this, the 50th anniversary of my birth, I can report a healthy follicular fastness of color. No figment, just real pigment. It’s the true hue.

I’m skinny, like I’ve always been. My waist has gone from the 32 inches it was in my twenties to a still-svelte 34. I weigh approximately 195 pounds, 10 to 15 more than I did in my twenties, but all those are pounds I’ve needed anyway. I have love handles, which on a skinny guy won’t attract many appreciative stares on the beach, but my body still does everything I ask of it. I can ride a bike really far, I can still do my push-ups and sit-ups (every weekday morning), and I won’t embarrass myself too badly in a pick-up game of touch football or softball. I can walk forever. I can rake leaves and shovel snow for hours and hours on end. After my knee injury heals (which will be soon), I’ll start jogging again.

My face is definitely the face of a 50-year-old. Riding your bike through the winter is no rejuvenator of the skin, I can tell you that. I suppose I could use skin moisturizers if I wanted to, but, nah, let the wrinkles take their course I say. Inside, however, I feel young. I feel like I’m only 21. And I take much better care of myself now than I did at that age. I exercise more than I used to, I eat better, and I approach life with a lot more calmness and assurance.

I think I still have a good curiosity of mind. I am perhaps more open to new ideas than I was when I was younger. I no longer have a great urge to impress people, a silly habit I was in during my younger days. I always wanted people to see how intelligent or talented I was in a wasted attempt to validate myself. Now I’m a lot more comfortable in my own skin. Going further, I find I can handle being misunderstood much better than I used to. I’ve got certain life skills I previously lacked; I can better deal with “the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” All this is to the good.

Financially, I’m on a pretty good footing. Losing my job would sure take the starch out of my sails, but the missus and I do okay. We’ve invested in real estate and so far things seem to be working out. We’ve got two great kids, one already an adult and the other well on her way. They become more and more interesting with each passing day and I often get a kick out of talking to them, frequently speaking to my daughters as peers. My extended family is doing well; I get together with my father, a sister and my brother to play cards once a month. Both parents are still alive, everyone is in good health. No complaints.

As I’ve gotten older, I think I’ve acquired more of a taste for the simple pleasures, something I was oftentimes impervious to in youth. An evening playing cards with family or friends constitutes a wonderful time. Stolen hours reading a book is nothing short of sublime. I enjoy the fundamental act of riding a bicycle, of feeling myself pass swiftly through space, smelling smells and seeing sights missed while driving an automobile. These days, I’m into body awareness; frequently I stop to investigate what I’m sensing right at that precise moment: the strain. say, of pedaling up a hill, or the feel of wind on my face; the intricate bodily actions that go into walking, the sensations of warmth and chill, or simply following the cool, sharp intake of a breath and the warm, soft exhalation of it. I think I am more appreciative of life, of its nature and its mystery. Sometimes I stop, look around and wonder: How did I get here? Is that guy in the mirror really me? Do all these things appertain to me? Sometimes I stop and think: Boy, what a lucky bastard I am!

So I mean this with all my heart: it’s great to be 50!

29 Comments:

Blogger Claire said...

Happy Birthday, Mr. S! May the next decades hold even more excitement and surprises as those to this point.

And, if I may offer one piece of advice - enjoy your 50s. Plan for tomorrow but live a little today as well, for nothing is promised us and nothing is guaranteed. My father learned that the hard way when a quadruple bypass gone wrong at 54 disabled him, sent my mom back to work, and derailed their retirement plans. These are some of the most active years of your life (potentially)...drink them in!

9:03 PM  
Blogger boo said...

'i think i am more appreciative of life, of its nature & its mystery. sometimes i stop, look around & wonder: how did i get here? Is that guy in the mirror really me? do all these things appertain to me? sometimes i stop & think: boy, what a lucky bastard i am!'

i do that everyday :)

5:38 AM  
Blogger Paul (rock star wanna be) said...

Right On! A great post...

12:37 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Dammit! I meant to come here yesterday to wish you a happy fifty. But I can see that you don't need it. Your attitude is just right, and it shows in everything you do and say. The wonderful thing about getting older is the increasing ability to enjoy life for what it is. My avatar is Wyatt Earp, but that is only because Doc Holiday was just too freaky looking. But at the end of Tombstone Val Kilmer, who played the role of his career in the good Doc, said that there is no point to life--there's just life. So go out and live it.

4:20 PM  
Blogger dr sardonicus said...

Keep that positive attitude, and the next 50 will be a walk in the park.

Happy birthday!

5:13 PM  
Blogger Farrago said...

My number three sister said to me one day as she stood on her porch loking down at me, "Gee, (Farrago), you don't have to worry about going grey because everywhere you're going grey, you're also going bald."

I was 26 at the time.

I hate you, Schprock; you and every last one of your firmly rooted, ever-darkening follicles.

|-P

Oh. And Happy Birthday.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Spirit Of Owl said...

Happy Birthday. Youth might be wasted on the young, but there's not an ounce of wisdom ever wasted on you. You're a true inspiration, and I wish you many more happy years. Thanks for all you are, and all you give.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Mrs.T said...

Happy Birthday!

I'd do a dance for ya, but I think you could do your own dang dance!

7:49 AM  
Blogger trinamick said...

You know what's sickening? I have already found gray hairs, and I'm not yet 26. You are sitting all smug in your 50th year without a one. Genetics are an evil thing.

Glad you are enjoying this stage of live. Do you feel any wiser? (My dad just turned 62, and he says he doesn't.)

7:52 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"These are some of the most active years of your life (potentially)...drink them in!"

Good advice, Claire. And I'm sorry about what happened with your father. I hope his quality of life is still good.


"i do that everyday :)"

I have always had a feeling you do, Boo. I can just tell. I think you're a good example to me.


"Right On! A great post..."

Thanks, Paul!


"…said that there is no point to life--there's just life. So go out and live it."

I think those are wise words, Scott. I've long felt it's up to you to come up with yur own point.


"Keep that positive attitude, and the next 50 will be a walk in the park."

As I plan to see my 100th birthday, I'll keep that in mind.


"I hate you, Schprock; you and every last one of your firmly rooted, ever-darkening follicles."


Well, if it makes you feel any better, my hairline ain't what it once was.

"Thanks for all you are, and all you give."

Same to you, Neil. It means a lot to me to follow your journey through your blog.


"I'd do a dance for ya, but I think you could do your own dang dance!"

Please dance for me! You haven't seen me dance! It's not pretty!


"Glad you are enjoying this stage of life. Do you feel any wiser?"

I will answer yes and add this: even the stupidest person can't help but get wiser through the years. Of course, I'm still far from having it all figured out!

10:17 AM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

Happy birthday! And many many more!! I plan on seeing you interviewed by Williard Scott Jr. on your 100th.

12:30 PM  
Blogger LL said...

I had a couple of great-great Uncles that lived to be 104 and 102 (they were brothers). The oldest of the two used to take a dollar and walk down to the local every afternoon and get him a beer, drink it while he visited with the rest of the gang, then walk home. After he turned 100, his wife cut him off from the daily allowance telling him he was too old for such nonsense. As it turns out, that was the one thing he looked forward to each day and his health began to fail shortly afterward. Although he hung on for 4 more years, he no longer had anything to look forward to. The moral of this story is don't listen to your wife when she tells you to stop drinking... erm... at least I think that's what the moral was.

Glad you had a good one, and now that you've got all this experience, the next 50 won't be nearly as tough.

1:47 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"I plan on seeing you interviewed by Williard Scott Jr. on your 100th."

Yeah, I'll be spoon-feeding Willard strained peas on that day.


"The moral of this story is don't listen to your wife when she tells you to stop drinking... erm... at least I think that's what the moral was."

Really? I think I'll start practicing this "not listening" thing you speak of now.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

I understand why you don't want to use a moisturiser but you really should put on something with an SPF of at least 15 when you're going to be outside. It's not for vanity's sake, but for skin cancer's sake.

Wow, the idea of a father talking to his daughter as something of an equal is completely foreign to me. I'm jealous.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

And because I'm an idiot.

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday, dear Mr. Sssccchhhppprrrooooccckkkkk!!!!
Happy Birthday to you!

And be very very thankful you can't actually hear me singing!

7:46 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"Wow, the idea of a father talking to his daughter as something of an equal is completely foreign to me. I'm jealous."

Even stranger is a daughter speaking to her father as an equal. Rarely achieved.

7:53 AM  
Blogger Michele said...

Hurray for you, mr. schprock: Life is Good!

Use a moisturizer with sunscreen and you could very well live to be 150!

10:13 AM  
Blogger John said...

My dad's uncle lives in Florida, well, he lives in Texas now, but at the time the story takes place he lived in Florida. Anyway, my uncle sent me a card one year, and I think the words he used to express himself that day still hold true today. On the front, it read, "Thousands of people are celebrating their birthdays today, John!" And on the inside, "But you're not one of them! Happy belated birthday!"

You know, Jiminy Cricket once said, "I'm no fool, no-sir-ee. I'm gonna live to be a hundred and three." Well, I'm pretty sure he's dead now, but I've got a good feeling that you'll outlive that smug little insect by a long shot.

10:49 AM  
Blogger magnetbabe said...

Happy (belated) Birthday, Mr. Schprock!

The wisdom you have garnered in your 50 years is evident in your writing. The joy you find in the little things as well as the most important things, (i.e. your family, health) shines through as well. It keeps people like me reading to see what observations you'll share next! Hope you had a fantastic birthday!

11:04 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"Use a moisturizer with sunscreen and you could very well live to be 150!"

Actually, I think I'll invent a Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion-lined suit and live to be 200!


"Well, I'm pretty sure he's dead now, but I've got a good feeling that you'll outlive that smug little insect by a long shot."

Yeah, I'll bet he didn't make it to 103 — it was just a boast. Don't forget he liked to hang out with liars.


"Hope you had a fantastic birthday!"

Thanks, Natalie! I did.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Irb said...

¡Feliz cumpleaños, Señor Schprock!

Congrats on the big 5-0, my man! And always try to remember these immortal words from 103-year-old Hattie McAdams:

"I have lived well, and I have loved well, and I have tasted the... oops, I crapped my pants again!"

1:52 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"I have lived well, and I have loved well, and I have tasted the... oops, I crapped my pants again!"

That's has a lot more significance than the Bob Hope "Christ! I sat on my teeth again!" quote.

5:40 AM  
Blogger Erica said...

Happy (belated) Birthday, Mr. Schprock - what a wonderful, insightful post to share, too. And you are dead-on correct: there is so much to enjoy ALL AROUND us, in the simplest moments, that we often miss in the daily hurry. Thank you for the reminder to slow down and just LIVE.

Many happy returns! :-)

6:04 AM  
Blogger Henry said...

Wow youre old.
:)

Happy Birthday to one of my favorite bloggers!!!

7:19 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"Thank you for the reminder to slow down and just LIVE."

And I constantly need to remind myself of that. It's not as automatic as I'd like.


"Wow you're old."

Yeah? Well, you're . . . you're . . . er . . .

Listen here, you whippersnapper! You just wait till I think of a good comeback. I'll settle your hash but good!

7:56 AM  
Blogger Flash said...

Congratulations, and here is to 50 more...

that is if you want to be around that long.

7:31 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

I'd like to live to 100 if my health is good. Otherwise, put me down like a lame horse.

4:40 AM  
Blogger :phil: said...

Happy Birthday my Friend!
You have a great attitude, most people don't count their blessings until they are close to losing them.

May you live as long as you want to, and want to as long as you live...

10:50 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

Thanks, Phil. Don't forget I'm counting on you for that 100 mile bike ride you and I are planning for February 18, 2036. I figure a Southwestern location, warm and dry — but not too flat! I need to get my hill work in, after all.

11:03 AM  

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