“They” say that age is just a number.

But that’s not true. Age is also — well, age.

I understand that the expression “age is just a number” means that “you’re only as old as you feel.”

Again, not true. You are as old as — well, your birth certificate says that you are.

We can exercise and eat right and maybe even luck out in the gene department, but the fact of the matter is that each year that we celebrate a birthday, we are one year older.

Sure, there are some people who age better than others, and definitely some people who look younger (or older!) than they actually are. But, barring celebrities who have megamillions to spend on cosmetic surgery — and probably even including that elite group — have you ever seen a 70-year-old who would be mistaken for a 20-year-old?

Me neither.

Does this sound a bit pessimistic and depressing?

The fact is that I will be turning the big 6-0 on Sunday, and I do feel a bit pessimistic and depressed about it.

There. I said it. Yes, I am a little down about turning 60. I hope that you won’t send the age police after me. It seems that it’s not socially correct anymore to be melancholy about getting older.

With improved health and nutrition, people live longer than they used to, and 60 is now the new 50, so “they” say. We’re supposed to embrace life, be all we can be, start a new chapter, etc.

And I’m not saying that’s bad advice. But, still, we can’t escape the fact that this new chapter includes graying hair, sparser eyelashes, wrinkles and not-quite-as-toned skin. Our teeth crack more easily, our eyesight is subject to glaucoma and macular degeneration, and … what was that you said? Oh, yes, our hearing is on the downhill slide.

(“They” say that getting old ain’t for sissies—finally, “they” are correct.)

One of my high school friends noted that he doesn’t feel like he thought he would feel at 60. Ditto that. I used to think that 60 was ancient, and I certainly don’t feel ancient. But I do notice that I can’t stay up all night like I used to, that I can’t eat as much hot and spicy stuff as I used to and that I can’t always open jars as easily as before. Another one of my high school friends told me that she is letting her hair go gray. Mostly, she said, she is OK with this, although sometimes she glances at herself in the mirror and is a little shocked.

I’m not ready for that shock yet. She is more comfortable in her own skin than I am. I keep on shelling out money for the highlights and the lowlights — knowing that I undoubtedly look older than I feel and think that I look.

But I also recognize that at some point I will probably have to grow old gracefully, as “they” say — or risk looking ridiculous with my blond locks.

What is that point? When I’m 70? 80? I don’t know, but just knowing that it’s time to start thinking about it makes me — well, a little sad.

Don’t get me wrong: I know that my life isn’t over because I’m 60. I’m in good health, and I still have lots of things I plan to accomplish.

But as I’m sure I won’t live to be 120 and pretty sure that I won’t reach 110, my life is more than half over.

And that’s a sobering thought, no matter what “they” say.

* * *

Readers may contact Sybrant at svsybrant@gmail.com or 45092 859th Road, Bassett, NE 68714.

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