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Blackwood: Your mind may age, but it can think young

POSTED: June 25, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Each week, I write this column by Thursday around noon. Newspapers have deadlines and I just can’t send this out on the information superhighway at the last minute.

I wrote last week about my ailing heart. A day after I wrote the column and submitted it to the various newspapers, Tim Russert of NBC News suffered a massive heart attack and died. Trust me, I would have never written about my own situation in light of what happened to Russert, who was one of my favorite folks on TV.

However, it has made the urgency of seeing a specialist a little more urgent.

On Monday, I turn 48. When I was a boy, 48 was decrepitly old. Now that I’m there, it seems so young.
When I started in the news business, I was the young buck. When I worked in television, the weather and sports guys were around 48. When I got to fill in at the anchor desk, I looked like such a kid beside them.

One of them is gone and the other is retired; I wonder how we would look in comparison today.

But age is a state of mind.

I went to a nursing home last year for a story and someone introduced me to their sister who was a resident there. “She’s about to turn 68,” the woman told me. She looked like she was 88. I was thinking that she was just barely old enough to be my mother. It made me feel old.

But then, I know a man who is in his early 80s and still works every day. He’s into pop culture and even has one of those gizmos to get e-mails on his cell phone. Just being around him makes me feel young.

There’s a mental list of things that I want to do by the time I’m 50. I have 730 days left to make them happen. I don’t want to climb Mount Everest or anything like that, but a trip to Europe would be nice. There were things I wanted to do by 40 and I accomplished many of them; some were left undone and now I’m down to the wire for the things I want to accomplish by the end of my fifth decade.

One of the new sentiments out there is that 50 is the new 30, which means in the new way of thinking I’m just 28. I’m glad that we’re not on the same aging schedule as dogs, otherwise I would be 336.

I’m not a complete fuddy-duddy, however, I occasionally reference old movies and events that some of my younger colleagues only know from history books. I know the names of at least some of the top stars in various genres of music, although I can’t understand the words to some of their songs.

Perhaps the greatest thing I have going into the final laps of my 40s is love. Mama used to say that all she wanted for Mother’s Day was to have her boys around.

On Father’s Day, I had my three girls sitting on the pew with me at church. I understood at that moment what Mama meant about having family around. Not only did it make me feel young, it made everything in my world of 47 years and 51 weeks seem so right.

Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays and Sundays.



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