My Turn: On Getting Older

Brian Curry

It began as a phone call between myself and another friend.

Separated by over 1,000 miles, we fell into the easy comfort of two almost lifelong friends with so many life experiences together and with a shared outlook on everything from favorite sports teams to politics.

We’re the same age and know many of the same people, so the subject of our phone call was a mutual, but much older friend. New developments with that mutual friend had caused us to reach out to each other to sort of compare notes, if you will.

After we had talked about our mutual friend, we did the obligatory update on our own lives. And that’s when things got serious.

I had reached out to him when I had gone through a very recent health scare. Who am I kidding? It wasn’t a “scare.” It was an actual event! I had shared with him the minimal information and updates but valued his thoughts on the whole thing, because he’s in the medical field.

I had not exactly “dodged the bullet,” but a serious problem had been dealt with, and with due diligence, I should be okay. Of course, it requires everything from new meds, prohibited items going forward, to an increased awareness of the “do’s” and “don’ts” for the rest of my time among the rest of you.

So, after he listened to my update, he then surprised me with one of his own. He had rather recently gotten his “dream job.” For those of us who admire his skills from afar, it was a natural progression for him. He had dotted all the “I”s and crossed all the “T”s and achieved so much in his field. We were happy and proud for him.

So, he shocked me by saying that he had stepped away from this high-pressure, high-performing job. It was his own choice, his own decision. “Nothing had gone wrong, no close calls, but this is a job where split-second decisions have to be made, and you’re part of a team that works at the same pace and with the same speed, and I found myself falling ever so slightly behind the younger members of my team,” he said.

He has stepped back to what still amounts to fulfilling and rewarding posts in his field, but just not that dream job anymore. I felt bad for him, but told him honestly that I very much admired that he had assessed his situation and made a decision based on what was best for everyone, from his team to his patients, and did not let his pride or ego be the decision maker.

Now that we had updated each other on the most recent “passages” in our life, we both groaned about how getting older stinks (we used a stronger word) and tried to lighten the conversation with awkward macho bantering.

But it took another darker turn when we pretty much simultaneously admitted that we had flirted with depression with these last two events. Not a clinical definition with all that comes with it, but a more than casual feeling down and out for a few days.

Ironically, we’re both on the younger end of getting older, if that makes sense, and, thankfully, we both don’t see our ends coming anytime soon, but it’s nothing like our first conversations so many years ago. For once, my Irish morbidity didn’t win out … and neither did his.

Brian Curry is a longtime Long Island Advance columnist and Sun Lakes Splash contributor. He is a three-time winner of the New York State Press Association’s “Column of the Year.” You can contact him at [email protected].