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Is 65 the New 45?

David Cowles

May 5, 2022

That’s conventional wisdom…and in this rare case, conventional wisdom is not wrong…but neither is it perfectly right.

At 65, we do feel about the same as we did at 45…maybe a step slower on the basketball court, but otherwise pretty much the same. So, does that mean that 75 is now the new 55? No way! I’m not sure 75 is even the new 65. 75 might just be the new 75! So, what’s going on here?

Gertrude Stein wrote, “We are always to ourselves young men and young women.” Ms. Stein points out that subjective time is very different from objective time. Objectively, we age one year, every year. Subjectively, we don’t!

Suppose I’m 65, objectively. According to conventional wisdom my subjective age is 45. But why 45? Why not 35 or 25 or even 15 or 5 for that matter?

Ms. Stein anticipated this question…and answered it. At 65 I can be 55 or 45 or 35 or 25…because all of them are really ‘25’ (young men and young women). But 65 can’t be the new 15 or the new 5. Why? Because 15-year-olds are not 15, nor are 5-year-olds 5. Both are ‘25’ too: “We are always to ourselves young men and young women.”

How would you graph your age? As a straight line running at a 45 degree angle from birth (0,0) to death? That’s time all right, but it is objective time: y = x. However, subjectively, time is mostly a flat line segment, parallel to the x-axis, running from x = 25 to x = 65.

From birth to 25 and from 65 on, subjective age follows a curvilinear track, convex before 25, concave after 65. Is it possible to do an equation for that?

In the Beatles movie, Yellow Submarine, John, Paul, George, and Ringo find themselves in ‘the sea of time’. Objectively, they regress to infancy and then advance to old age, all in the space of just a few minutes. But through it all they remain “young men”, i.e., circa 25. They live in ‘Stein-time’.

To explore further the wisdom of the Yellow Submarine, stay tuned for Issue #1 of AT Magazine, scheduled for publication on 6/1/22, and check out the feature article, Science and the Yellow Submarine. Bookmark

Society never tires of telling us to ‘act our age’. But which age? We are our own age only three times in our lives: once at birth (or before), once when the two temporal trajectories (subjective & objective) intersect, and finally at the moment of our death. Otherwise, our subjective age is always different from our objective age. How can I act my age if I don’t know how old I am?

I’ve always admired children who could accept being children and old folks who could accept being old. Trouble is, I’ve met very few of either!

I can’t remember a time when I thought of myself as a ‘child’. My childhood was an unbroken struggle to escape - escape from parents, escape from school, escape from childhood itself! I can’t remember a time when I did not want to be 25, and did not think of myself as 25, until now. I am 75, like it or not, and I’m starting to think of myself as 75, or close to it. My trajectories are converging…for the last time.

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