Getting Older, Music, Thoughts

Back In My Prime

[Originally posted on August 18, 2009.]

There are many happenings in life that change the way we see ourselves. It’s not always ‘change’ in the conventional sense–sometimes, the change we feel is really just an acknowledgment of something about ourselves we never acknowledged before. For me, one such happening occurred in 2005. I was sitting at home, watching some TV and flipping through channels when it happened. I saw this music video on CMT:

Toby Keith – As Good As I Once Was

In about 4 minutes and 44 seconds, Toby Keith had summarized exactly how I was feeling inside, and changed the way I saw myself.

I was 28 at the time; well on my way to 30. Much of the lush dark hair that adorned my head had already faded away to time. I certainly didn’t think I was old, nor did I feel old. However, I did feel like I was somehow ‘not as good’ as I used to be.

As time marched forward, I realized I was less in touch with what ‘young people’ were in touch with. I started to despise the nightclub scene that I had once enjoyed. I grew up with videogames, yet I didn’t ‘get’ why kids today thought it was cool to play videogames where the main character was a recently-released ex-con who ran around town beating the crap out of innocent bystanders and stealing their cars. [What ever happened to being the good guy?] I also discovered that I had suddenly become what most ‘young’ women are not looking for in a man: well-mannered, intelligent and chivalrous. In many ways, I felt like a ‘diminished’ version of myself.

When I turned 30 two years ago, I realized I had more in common with my father who was 31 years older than me, than my brother who was 8 years younger than me. While this realization was a bit of a downer, I also realized that I had gained two things the years could never take from me (unlike my hairline): memories and experience.

I recalled a few favorite lines from the aforementioned country song:

I ain’t as good as I once was
My how the years have flown
But there was a time, back in my prime
When I could really hold my own

“Back in my prime.” Those words felt so liberating, for some reason. No matter how out of touch I get, I will always have the memories of how I was ‘back in my prime’ and the experience I gained from that magical time in my life. I no longer dread getting older. In fact, I’m reveling in my new 30-something role.

Four years after the first time I heard the song, I still find profound meaning and humor in it. I think of it often when I’m sitting around a table or at a bar with ‘younger’ people around me. There inevitably comes a moment during those outings when I’m faced with some young gun who thinks he knows it all and that I don’t have a clue. While there once was a time where I’d hang my head, these days, I take a deep breath, look him in the eye and fearlessly say, “I ain’t as good as I once was. But I’m as good once, as I ever was!”

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