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Peering Over the Edge of 40

fight 1

LIKE A SMALL BOAT ON THE OCEAN

SENDING BIG WAVES INTO MOTION

LIKE HOW A SINGLE WORD

CAN MAKE A HEART OPEN

I MIGHT ONLY HAVE ONE MATCH

BUT I CAN MAKE AN EXPLOSION

 

AND ALL THOSE THINGS I DIDN’T SAY

WRECKING BALLS INSIDE MY BRAIN

I WILL SCREAM THEM LOUD TONIGHT

CAN YOU HEAR MY VOICE THIS TIME?

There comes a time, usually around the age at which I now find myself, when you have to make a decision to keep fighting to carve out a place in the world, or to resign yourself to what you’ve been given and what you’ve earned, and make the best of it. At its essence, the decision is one largely dictated and designed by a society in which getting older is more frightening rather than something to be revered. Maybe it’s getting worse, or maybe I’m just noticing it more as the world around me grows younger and I go in the opposite direction. To be honest, age has never mattered much to me, and it never will, but that won’t make a difference to everyone else. Too much of our existence is based on perception, and once you hit forty, particularly among gay men, the perception is that you’re too old to play in the big league anymore.

THIS IS MY FIGHT SONG
TAKE BACK MY LIFE SONG
PROVE I’M ALRIGHT SONG
MY POWER’S TURNED ON
STARTING RIGHT NOW I’LL BE STRONG
I’LL PLAY MY FIGHT SONG
AND I DON’T REALLY CARE IF NOBODY ELSE BELIEVES
‘CAUSE I’VE STILL GOT A LOT OF FIGHT LEFT IN ME

Madonna has been attacked for it for the last decade or so, and I know my time is just around the corner. The gray hair has come, the stomach around me thickens, and it’s just a matter of time before I metaphorically disappear from society’s sight. It’s a world for the youth. Always has been, ever will be. When you’re young you don’t always realize that because it certainly doesn’t feel that way, but I had glimpses of it. I relished my time there, even as I guarded against giving into such a dreamer’s paradise. It’s the surest way of losing your footing, to lose sight of the future and gain glory for the moment.

I’ve seen it more as I get older, which makes sense. The college-age revelers I watch stumbling along the streets late at night get younger and younger – only they’re not. I’m simply getting older. They don’t see me, partly because of their drunken stupor, partly because I’m beyond their interest. At a certain age, we all become invisible. I don’t mind that – it’s the aggressive attacks against someone older than them that indirectly sting more.

I was never vicious that way, not when it came to age, or gender, or race, or religion. I’ll judge you for your crocs and capris, not for the God in which you do or don’t believe, not for the size or shape of your body, or the color of your hair or skin, or for how long you’ve been walking on earth. I respected and looked up to everyone who was older than me, and often the older someone was, the more wisdom I assumed they had. That’s a fallacy in itself, but a graceful one.

LOSING FRIENDS AND I’M CHASING SLEEP
EVERYBODY’S WORRIED ABOUT ME
IN TOO DEEP
SAY I’M IN TOO DEEP (IN TOO DEEP)
AND IT’S BEEN TWO YEARS
I MISS MY HOME
BUT THERE’S A FIRE BURNING IN MY BONES
AND I STILL BELIEVE
YEAH I STILL BELIEVE

AND ALL THOSE THINGS I DIDN’T SAY
WRECKING BALLS INSIDE MY BRAIN
I WILL SCREAM THEM LOUD TONIGHT
CAN YOU HEAR MY VOICE THIS TIME?

As I approach the stroke of forty, that golden hour when you can’t really claim to be young anymore, not in any conventional sense, I find myself sidling slowly out of the race. That’s what it sort of feels like to me now: the race to stay in fashion, to stay in vogue, to stay relevant and popular and on everyone’s tongue. Part of me wants to fade away, leaving the party first instead of lingering, because there’s nothing worse than a party guest who doesn’t know when it’s over. Better to leave sooner than later, best to leave them wanting more, the hope that they might even miss you still a happy possibility. At those moments, I have thought of stepping down from this self-appointed/self-anointed throne, and letting someone else take on the mantle of all this nonsense. It’s a bunch of fluff and frivolity anyway, right? When dissected and broken down, there’s not much to any of it. Yet it’s all I have. It’s all that I’ve ever had. And it’s mine, and mine alone.

THIS IS MY FIGHT SONG
TAKE BACK MY LIFE SONG
PROVE I’M ALRIGHT SONG
MY POWER’S TURNED ON
STARTING RIGHT NOW I’LL BE STRONG
I’LL PLAY MY FIGHT SONG
AND I DON’T REALLY CARE IF NOBODY ELSE BELIEVES
‘CAUSE I’VE STILL GOT A LOT OF FIGHT LEFT IN ME

Then I think… fuck it. I’m still here. I still matter. I can still do ten times what someone half my age could only dream of doing, and that little fire burns a little brighter, and suddenly I’m mouthing the words to this silly empowering pop song, popular with a demographic of which I’m proudly a member (since 1975) and my fists are pumping in the air and the sparkle in my eye is a tear of joy, a tear of glory, a tear of reconciliation.

LIKE A SMALL BOAT
ON THE OCEAN
SENDING BIG WAVES
INTO MOTION
LIKE HOW A SINGLE WORD
CAN MAKE A HEART OPEN
I MIGHT ONLY HAVE ONE MATCH
BUT I CAN MAKE AN EXPLOSION

Whenever I’ve doubted myself, I’ve done it. Instead of hesitating, I’ve held fast. That won’t change as I round the corner to forty. Or fifty. Or sixty. And if at the age of seventy I still want to go on “tour” and wear a cape and flash my ass on Instagram, by God I’m going to do it. You may remain seated and watch all you want. The ones who decry those older than they are usually do so out of deeper-seeded reasons: jealousy or fear or the insidious notion of not having the balls to do it themselves. Rarely is it as simple as petty meanness or small-minded cruelty (though sometimes it is). We each have our demons. They rear their ugly heads in different ways.

As for me, I’m embracing every step of this life. With age, comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes power. It’s not a power you can wield over others, it’s not a power that controls. It’s a power that is intrinsic to each of us. You will find it within, and when you do you will carry it with you through life. It’s not something you can give away, and it’s not something that can be taken. It’s an indestructible charm, a magic all your own. Find yours, and don’t ever look back.

THIS IS MY FIGHT SONG
TAKE BACK MY LIFE SONG
PROVE I’M ALRIGHT SONG
MY POWER’S TURNED ON
STARTING RIGHT NOW I’LL BE STRONG (I’LL BE STRONG)
I’LL PLAY MY FIGHT SONG
AND I DON’T REALLY CARE IF NOBODY ELSE BELIEVES
‘CAUSE I’VE STILL GOT A LOT OF FIGHT LEFT IN ME

NOW I’VE STILL GOT A LOT OF FIGHT LEFT IN ME.

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