The Gray Line Tour: How old is “old” nowadays

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 25, 2002


How old is old?

I’ve known “elderly” people with hearts so young and thrilled with each sunrise. I’ve known comparatively younger people who feel the weight of the world on their shoulders.

I’m 48 years of age. I don’t feel old. In many ways, I don’t feel I’ve changed much since I was 30.

My wife tells me I went through a major personality change when I turned 30, though I don’t recall it. According to her, I was much more of a “loose cannon,” with an explosive temper and more irresponsible. When I hit 30, that ended. While I agree my temper is much more under control than in my youth (and I agree it got me into more than my share of trouble), I still feel much of the time that I’m still that callow youth.

It doesn’t strike me as odd that I still enjoy many of the things I enjoyed 20 and more years ago, for instance, and there are some activities usually associated with younger people that I enjoy as well, despite my “advanced age.”

I’ve attended a few outdoor rock music festivals in New Orleans, when I was more than twice the age of the average attendee. I still read and collect comic books.

However, there are some youthful activities I am happy I gave up and a few I don’t ever plan to try. I have no tattoos or piercings and see no sense in either, for example.

I’ve heard for years that political conservatives are mostly former liberals who now have children of their own and feel that onset of “responsibility.” However, that assumes every liberal is immature, which is obvious nonsense.

At the same time, I’ve known Young Republicans who completely bought into the conservative line without ever considering the possibility of developing a liberal social consciousness.

In many ways, I feel that as I grow older, I grow more liberal in my thinking. At the same time, on some issues, I remain a rock-hard conservative. I do, after all, have nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews and godchildren.

Age, they say, is just a number. True age is in each person’s heart and soul. In my mind, I’m forever young.

LEONARD GRAY is assistant managing editor of L’Observateur.