I don't think of myself as being old, even though I will turn 60 on August 4 of this year (mark your calendars!). I still think and feel the same way I did at 30, 40 and 50. I love to do the things I always have, which includes having lots of fun whenever possible. But every now and then, I look in the mirror and see my mother looking back at me. Not that it's a bad thing, but it is often an unexpected thing. Because in my mind, I look the way I did decades ago.
My father recently turned 90.
That's a significant milestone, I suppose, since the average lifespan of an American male is 76.4 years. (In case you're wondering, the life expectancy of a woman is 81.2 years.) So, my dad has cheated death for 13.6 years. He is very tech-saavy and has both an iPhone and and iPad in addition to his fancy touch-screen Dell desktop computer. He loves Facebook and recently took a Facebook quiz that tells how long you'll live. He proudly announced he'd live to see age 99. Why not?!
Last weekend Larry and I went to a music festival in the Mississippi Delta (Clarksdale, to be exact). It was the tenth annual Juke Joint Festival, but it was our first time to attend. My experience with music festivals is that they are crowded with lots of lines to stand in for everything from refreshments to restrooms. I have been to my share of festivals over the years, but I guess it was that small part of me that was feeling a little bit old that resisted when I was asked by my friend Jonni Webb if Larry and I would like to go to the Juke Joint Festival this year. She and her fella, Tom Pittman, attended last year for the first time. Jonni (a potter, look up her work at http://jrwebbart.com/) and they had a blast. We relented and made hotel reservations months ago and when the weekend came, we packed up and drove the two and a half hours north through the cotton fields to Clarksdale.
Good thing we did! We had a wonderful weekend! Not really knowing what to expect, our expectations weren't that high. Even if they had been, the festival would have exceeded them! I'm not going to give every detail, but suffice it to say we heard some fantastic music by some amazingly talented musicians, saw some wonderful artwork, ate some delicious food in the most unexpected places, and had an overall great time. (The liberal use of adjectives should give a good indication of how much we enjoyed ourselves!) Most of the musicians were older, as well, with the exception of a cutie from Columbia, South America, Carlos Elliott, Jr, who I hope is the future of the Blues.
One of the things that struck me the most was the plethora of old people in attendance. By old, I mean people in their 50s, 60s and 70s and beyond--not what I had expected to find at a music festival. I saw more men with long gray pony tails and women who, despite their wrinkles and silver hair, seemed so in their own skin. People weren't dressed to impress, because the fashion police weren't anywhere near Clarksdale. It was refreshing and relaxing to be around those folks. And even though I'm pushing 60, it took me a day or two to realize I'M ONE OF THOSE FOLKS!
I would be afraid to take that Facebook quiz, fearful that I might not like what it says (as if it means anything anyway...). But I can see hanging out in the many music venues at the Juke Joint Festival at the age of 99, listening to Blues artists who may just be pushing the same age, assuming their hard-living ways haven't caught up with them. If this is what being old looks like, I'm all in!
P.S. And then there was this...
While we missed the monkeys riding dogs (a reason to go back next year...) I did pick the winner at the pig races!