Many years of now

“When I’m Sixty-Four” is 44 years old. I was 20 when it came out, in the summer of 1967,  one among thirteen perfect tracks on The Beatles‘ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. For all the years since, I’ve thought the song began, “When I get older, losing my head…” But yesterday, on the eve of actually turning sixty-four, I watched this video animation of the song (by theClemmer) and found that Paul McCartney actually sang, “… losing my hair.”

Well, that’s true. I’m not bald yet, but the bare spot in the back and the thin zone in the front are advancing toward each other, while my face continues falling down below.

In July 2006, my old friend Tom Guild put Doc Searls explains driftwood of the land up on YouTube. It’s an improvisational comedy riff that Tom shot with his huge new shoulder-fire video camera at our friend Steve Tulsky’s house on a Marin County hillside in June, 1988. The shot on the left is a still from that video.

It was a reunion of sorts. Tom, Steve and I had all worked in radio together in North Carolina. I was forty in ’88, and looked about half that age. When my ten-year-old kid saw it, he said “Papa, you don’t look like that.” I replied, “No, I do look like that. I don’t look like this,” pointing to my face.

Today it would be nice if I still looked like I did five years ago. The shot in the banner at the top of my old (1999-2007) blog was taken in the summer of 1999 (here’s the original), when I was fifty-two and looked half that age. The one on the right was taken last summer (the shades on my forehead masking a scalp that now reflects light), when I was a few days short of sixty-three. By then I was finally looking my age.

A couple months back I gave a talk at the Personal Democracy Forum where I was warmly introduced as one of those elders we should all listen to. That was nice, but here’s the strange part: when it comes to what I do in the world, I’m still young. Most of the people I hang and work with are half my age or less, yet I rarely notice or think about that, because it’s irrelevant. My job is changing the world, and that’s a calling that tends to involve smart, young, energetic people. The difference for a few of us is that we’ve been young a lot longer.

But I don’t have illusions about the facts of life. It’s in one’s sixties that the croak rate starts to angle north on the Y axis as age ticks east on the X. Still, I’m in no less hurry to make things happen than I ever was. I’m just more patient. That’s because one of the things I’ve learned is that now is always earlier than it seems. None of the future has happened yet, and it’s always bigger than the past.

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9 Responses to Many years of now

  1. AKMA says:

    Happy birthday, Doc! It’s one of the treats of the past decade online that our paths have crossed a few times; thanks for your (birthday) presence!

  2. just the shell ages. your spirit it eternal!

    all the best 🙂

    – v

  3. Buzz says:

    Happy Birthday Doc!

    Am honored that you are my friend, enjoy the day and all those to come in great health and happiness…


  4. Britt Blaser says:

    Your Vera, Chuck & Dave day. Congrats, buddy!

  5. Warmest wishes, Doc. I think the price of wisdom is often “hair”… Enjoy the day, and hope to hear from you soon…


  6. Geoff says:

    Happy Birthday Doc! I really enjoyed my 64th the day before hope to bump into you again real soon.

  7. DC Stultz says:

    Happy Birthday Doc! Ah, to be 64 again. LOL I am 7+ years older than you. Like you, the beard I’ve had for 43 years is gray, as is, what little hair I have on top. I honestly don’t know the guy in the bathroom mirror — the old guy I see is not the young guy I know is in that old body. 🙂 Amazingly enough, I pushed code for 45 years – the last ten years designing and coding web apps in Perl. Alas, that ended last August when I got pushed out the door at age 70. No regrets – the computer biz was good to me despite a lack of a degree.

  8. Paul Bouzide says:

    Happy Birthday Doc! Less than 10 behind you…

  9. My dear, I am older than you, and my friends are less than half my age. So it really does not matter. Friends of mine are dropping dead around me like flies, but they seem not to be the committed, excited, future thinking ones. I believe there’s a lot of mind over matter in aging, and I am trying to see if that’s true:-)

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