National Senior Citizens Day is this Saturday, the day when they all get together and talk about how they miss the good ol’ days. For instance, coming home from work and not having to unlock the front door. For that matter, never even having a key for the front door, or if you did, it was permanently lost. That’s the house I grew up in, and I’m pretty sure it was the same for most everyone else in town.
It was a different world, I suppose. You didn't have all the options. You had to make do with regular Fritos since there were no chile-cheese Fritos. Or if you wanted to see Star Wars again, you had to wait a couple of years for it to be broadcast on TV with commercials. If you wanted to keep pictures you had to have a physical photo album. No Flickr or Photobucket or I-cloud storage.
Wait, Stop. I’m starting to digress before there’s something from which to digress. Am I getting old?
I’ll start again. Senior Citizens Day is this Saturday, a day, according to Ronald Reagan's presidential proclamation, to "recognize and show appreciation for the value and contribution of elderly people to home, family, and society."
It's no secret that yours truly went clawing and scratching into that age bracket a while back, and I came to that realization when young people started calling me "sir." I'm not sure who qualifies, exactly, to be elevated from a junior citizen to a senior citizen. We usually assume someone is a senior citizen because of — and I'm speaking for myself — the tell-tale signs of various and sundry wrinkles where there were no wrinkles before and those funny little spots which pop up that didn't used to be there. And again, speaking for myself, the occasional “how did I get here?” rumination.
AARP says it's when you've cleared that 50 year hurdle (at least that's when they start sending you mail), but you'll also find that senior discounts at some places start at 55, other places it's 60 or 65, and the fine folks at Social Security let you claim that honor at 62. There’s no consensus.
I just about decided this whole thing about defining age and aging, and youth and middle age, and old age are kind of invented. Without exception, I have heard people tell me their mind and spirit and everything else in their mental wherewithal are the same, even though the body has slowed down. As Indiana Jones said, "It ain’t the years, it’s the mileage."
What’s weird for me is that after all these years I still haven’t learned to sleep properly. Waking up at all hours of the night trying to comprehend the Richard Feyman lecture I watched on YouTube, or a song from The Beatles' Revolver album bouncing around my noodle:
When I wake up early in the morning
Lift my head, I'm still yawning
When I'm in the middle of a dream
Stay in bed, float up stream
It's true that some people can't sleep because of sleep apnea. Others have insomnia because they have a condition called...Internet. It’s like that Twilight Zone episode where the young couple can’t leave the town because the guy keeps coming back to ask a café toy that looks like a little devil what they should do next.
Maybe those of us with eyeballs wide open should get together on the Internet and have a Zoom meeting in the dead of night and try to bore each other back to sleep. A kind of “Sleepless in Socorro” gabfest.
Speaking of Zoom meetings, why do I keep thinking of Hollywood Squares?
In any case, there are some people who say they are “night people” and talk about how they’ve read that people who stay up late are more creative or have high IQs or some such. If that’s true, I'd like to be a night person too, but since I have to be at work at eight o’clock in the morning I can’t figure out how to make that work. I guess I could start going to bed right after 5 p.m. and wake up at 1 a.m. and use my smarts through the wee hours of the morning before I have to go back to my job at 8 a.m. Trouble is, I would miss supper, so that's out.
But, I've discovered there is a happy medium. It’s something they call segmented sleeping. It’s where you start going to bed earlier, and plan to wake up three or four hours and do some stuff. Then go back to bed to finish up your sleep time. It’s kind of like going with the flow.
Anyway, outside of melatonin ( or is it serotonin?), it seems to work for me.