I think there should be, for everyone between the ages of 70 and 75, a gong that sounds the warning, “This is the Dawning of the Age of Vicarious.”
One inevitably slips from devouring the joy of an activity to fading away to the satisfaction in seeing the joy that younger friends experience.
The reality of that has been creeping toward me for several years, beginning when my buddy Aaron Williams (some 40 years my junior) launched us on a short boat trip from the dam to Isaak’s.
“I hope you don’t mind if we don’t fish this trip,” he said, “I can’t row and untangle your line at the same time.”
We laughed, but I knew it was a signal.
Gradually, from 71 to my current 80, I withdrew from other activities with Aaron — building a cabin, mountain hikes, a more raucous nightlife. This didn’t diminish the friendship, but just meant less time together as I increased more sedate activities.
A typical time when another friend, Rennan Rieke (only 30 years my junior), and I can steal time together is for far-ranging conversation and either laughter or commiseration during the time it takes for a couple of drinks.
The same for Bruce Whittenberg — only 20 years younger than I. His hikes and fishing excursions would be too much for me now. A typical evening — every Wednesday now for the past five or six years — is two glasses of wine at the Hawthorn, or two to four glasses of beer at the Blackfoot Brewery and then dinner and home by nine.
Aaron and Bruce just returned from arduous fishing trips — Aaron in Alaska and Bruce in Yellowstone Park.
I enjoyed both enormously, without raising a finger. I’ve got to say I love my vicarious period and will stretch it as long as I can with these and other close friends.
Vicarious ain’t so bad. Except perhaps when it comes to sex. That transition takes more adjustment. MSN