Sing with me, Scott is 40
Thursday, March 31, 20050 Comments
I realized a long time ago (of course, at my age, everything seems a long time ago) that age is a relative thing. I spent all of elementary school waiting to become “one of the big kids” (the grade sixes), only to find that I was on the low end of the social totem pole again when I entered grade seven (and even lower when I entered grade nine). Now I have kids that are around the same age as those “big kids”, but I still think of them as very young (they must be, since I swear that I haven’t got that much older since they were born).
I sometimes wonder to myself when Mark Messier or Chris Chelios is going to retire from professional hockey, given their advanced years – then realize with great shock that they are just a few years older than I am. At the same time, I overheard someone referring to me as “the kid” at last fall’s Ontario NDP convention (I laughed, not just because the comment said something about how I perceived, but because it also said a lot about how much work my party has to do to bring in more real “kids”).
In any event, I’m not going to let my age define me now, any more than I did when I started writing regular letters-to-the-editor when I was 13 (the true roots of my column-writing) or when I ran for Parliament at the age of 23. But, I do have to be more conscious of things – like writing wills, planning for retirement, and putting two children through university – that were barely a blip on my mental radar two decades ago.
I’ve learned a lot and I still have a lot to learn. I don’t tilt at windmills or bang my head against brick walls as much as I used to. I’ve realized that I’m not going to single- handedly save the whole world on my own, so I’ve become better at building alliances and at deciding where to focus my energies. I’ve learned to choose my battles more carefully, although I still have a hard time resisting some of the longshot causes that come to my attention.
I was born in 1965 which, depending on whom you ask, was the last year of the baby boom or the first year of Generation X. It was a tumultuous time, three years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, two years after the murder of Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and a year after the Beatles came to North America. I’m the same age as the Canadian flag, a year younger than the Ford Mustang, and a year older than Americans’ right to remain silent.
In case you’re interested, the following people are just a few of the others who will be turning 40 in 2005: hockey goalies Dominik Hasek and Ed Belfour; Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers; actors Sarah Jessica Parker, Ben Stiller, Sandra Bullock and Robert Downey Jr.; musicians Trent Reznor, Björk and Shania Twain; figure skater Katarina Witt; and author J.K. Rowling.
The mere fact that I can easily rhyme off all of those names is the result of the biggest change that has occurred in my lifetime: the dawn of the information age. In 1965, computers existed – but, they were housed in buildings. Today, thousands of times more processing capacity fits into the palm of my hand. The internet has made the sharing of valuable information easier than it has ever been (although it has also made the sharing of less desireable manifestations of the human mind easier as well).
My life has been shaped by the events of my lifetime: by the War Measures Act and the assassination of Martin Luther King (both of which, believe it or not, I remember); by Watergate and by Sponsorgate; by the Canada-Soviet hockey summit and the Kitchener Rangers’ two Memorial Cup wins; by Woodstock and by Live Aid; by the Air India bombings and by 9/11; by the moon walk and by the explosion of two space shuttles; by Vietnam and by both Iraq wars; by the patriation of the Canadian constitution and by official bilingualism; by the fall of the Berlin Wall and by the fall of apartheid.
But, more than that, my life has been shaped by my parents and the rest of the family into which I was born. It’s been shaped by the wonderful family that I’ve built my wife and my wonderful children. It’s been shaped by the every teacher that I ever had, and everyone with whom I’ve worked on a cause. But, at 40, my life isn’t even half over yet. I’ve still got a lot of living to do. And, I’ve still got a world to save.