In Other Words … Season 2, Episode 22

Reading Time: 2 minutes
The sun sets over Woodbury, Connecticut, on the first day of summer, June 21, 2023. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

“It’s all down hill from here.”

You can take that expression two ways — three, if you’re a downhill skier. One is that you’ve reached the peak and the trail will be easier as you head back down. The other is that you’ve passed the prime and everything is in decline.

Is the glass half-full or half-empty? When it comes to solstices and human lifespans, I think about the latter.

The summer solstice, which occurs around June 21, is the longest day of the year. The days now are getting shorter, the nights longer, until the situation reverses around December 21.

Human lives don’t get that chance, unless you believe in reincarnation. If you do, I’d like to hear more about it. In my experience one life is all you get.

In terms of a human life — childhood, young adult, middle age, older adult, seniors — the United States is getting older. Birth rates are down and people are living longer. The median age — half are older, half younger — is 38.9 years. That means if you’re over 40, you’re over the hill. It’s all down hill from here.

When I was 40, I was already over the hill. The median age then was 35. When I was 35 it was about 33. In fact, I haven’t been younger than most other Americans since around 1980, when the median was 30. So for me, things have been going downhill for most of my life. Such is the fate of a Boomer.

In 1980, I wasn’t even married yet. As you’ve seen in my series from my early journals as a writer, I was still exploring newspaper journalism, dabbling in fiction, and looking for a full-time job. Then I became a husband, then a father, and a full-time job became more important.

My recent series of posts from 1979 comes from that era, when I was still a “young” writer. It started with my attempt to read through my journals to find when I resumed work on my “Margery” play, which I know I continued with a two-act version in 1981. I’m enjoying the 20-20 hindsight from a distance of 45 years. I hope you are too.

This week and next are a busy time as we prepare for a family reunion. I continue to work on the Bubble Wrap project when I can, along with these posts. We have a few more scheduled between now and July 4th. After that, we’ll see what happens as the days get shorter.

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