Beware The Cougar! Love, Dating, And How Old Is Too Old And How Young Is Too Young?

 

I will frequently mention the source and/or inspiration for the subject matters that I write. Often times it is some personal experience, special occasion, film or documentary I have viewed that serves as my impetus for writing on a particular matter.

Not this time.

Yesterday, one of my very faithful readers and blog followers from the beginning, Nikki, asked me if I take requests for blog subject matters.  So today’s topic comes courtesy of her request.

No likey? Blame darling Nikki.

She asked if I would blog my thoughts concerning age and dating; namely, how far apart or close together in age should two people be when considering a relationship?

And, imagine this, I actually have an opinion on this matter. It is quite a common topic that comes up frequently in my courses, particularly interpersonal communication.

I must confess that I have been influenced and quite intrigued with the message of the movie Benjamin Button, a story of man who ages in reverse, born an old man and as he ages, keeps getting younger and younger; eventually only to die an infant.  What fascinated me was both his love interest in the film, a woman who aged like the rest of us, and their crossing lives like an X intersection, as he continually grew younger, she continually grew older, only for a time to be at the center intersect of the X and enjoy a socially acceptable -age wise- relationship for a few years. Eventually, she was too old to date a child…yet the love was still present. The message? Love knows no age and true love finds each other regardless of demographics.

Hollywood romantic bullshit? Probably. Yet an intriguing notion to be sure, with a few drops of truth. It is also, quite disturbingly, a strong pedophile defense strategy.

Another film (one I would HIGHLY recommend) is Harold and Maude, a film about an older teen boy who falls in love with Maude, a seventy-something or so woman. It is a delightful story of two souls connecting, and, in the spirit of Benjamin Button (though filmed forty years before it) she was the young at heart while he was the old soul.

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These are basically the fairy tales of those who say age is irrelevant, but a number. Perhaps these films are the inspiration for 53 year-old George Clooney never dating anyone over 25, or the 55 year-old Alec Baldwin marrying his 30 year-old Yoga instructor.

The general rule of thumb would be this -for both men and women: If you date someone older you are likely banking on much more stability, less drama, financial security and, probably, a bit more intellect. True you may have to put up with more sag in some bodily regions and may have to change their diaper one day, yet, still, the upside ain’t bad.

If you date younger you probably trade in much of that stable, drama free, secure existence for a far more adventurous and frenetic journey, filled with far more mystery, intrigue, and an openness for great change. And….no sag. Not bad.

The bottom line is this: What are you looking for? My advice is that if you are looking for a stable life partner, it is probably better to go with someone around your own age –and by “around” this changes for each decade of life. In your 20’s “around” would be about 0 to, say 3 1/2, 4 years in difference; in your 30’s it could mean 4-7 years; in your 40’s 7-10 years; in your 50’s all bets are off as “around” means anyone still breathing as fair game and a viable partner.

“But, Jimmy, age is just a number. Why does this even matter?”

So glad you asked curious, omniscient blog ghost.

The success of most relationships rest in one major principle –communication- which can be a very difficult and elusive skill to master, to say the least. How do we communicate effectively? Since that is another blog series for another day, I will say two people sharing the same basic demographics such as religious affiliation, zip code, income, ethnicity, and AGE, just to name a few, are vital in the ability to communicate effectively, hence relational success. Does a couple HAVE to share all these things? Of course not, yet the more similarities, the more effectively the two can share thoughts, ideas, and words in ways that are understood and comprehended by the other person. There is a strong comfort in shared familiarity.

Shared demographics is not a certainty for happiness, it is just hedging your relational gamble bet a bit more in your favor.

Jimmy’s basic axiom: Opposites definitely do attract, yet opposites generally do not last. Birds of a feather flock together, and have a far better chance of enjoying forever. Dating that exotic guy or gal can be super fun and intriguing for a time, yet “exotic and fun” usually eventually evolves into “neurotic and done.”

If you are just looking for some fun and intrigue?  Just want to live and enjoy in the moment? Every age and experience can bring something unique and different to the table. Go for it. Whether you are 20, 30, 40, 50, or 80, each season of life brings something special and unique. In spite of the fact I joke about turning 50 and being an old fart, I would not trade in my 5 decades for anything.  I love my season in life. To think of being that insecure 20 year-old again is frightening, yet at the time I was fine, as I still could ball with the best of them, dunk a tennis ball and never suffered a sore anything. Maybe every age group can benefit from all the other age groups in some way, shape or form.

Are there exceptions to every rule? Can the younger woman find true love with the older man or the cougar find happiness with the younger man? Of course. Problem is with employing the “exception theory” is that we usually think we are it, and, truth be told, we probably are not.

I think I answered the question, in 1,030 words no less. I hope Nikki likes the answer. Or at least puts her in tension. Or not. Cause everyone just does what they want to do anyway.

I know, right?

 

Good Morning! And In Case I Don’t See Ya, Good Afternoon, Good Evening, And Good Night! Oh…And I Don’t Know Shit!

One of my most emotional moments in cinematic history—the one that brings shivers down my spine and tears to my eyes—probably doesn’t even conjure up the slightest reaction in most people. I realize that poetry, songs, and movie scenes have far more to do with the season in life and the experiences that emotionally connect us with this poetry, songs, or scenes, over the quality of the art itself. For example, the song “I Wanna Kiss You All Over,” the piece of crap by Exile in 1978, is, objectively speaking, shit, on (then) vinyl. Yet whenever I hear this song it takes me back to one of my first kisses and I squeal with delight like a child whenever I hear it.

Such is the case with the movie The Truman Show—the story of a man, unknowingly living inside a large sound studio thinking that is his reality, only to eventually find out, through an arduous series of circumstances, he had been lied to his whole life and what he thought was real, never was—it was all in a phony and fake, albeit quite large and elaborate, movie set.

It is this moment, when Truman reaches out and touches the far outer wall after journeying across the “ocean” of the studio, when he has his epiphany of truth and looks of sadness, surprise, relief, happiness, and mystery all converge on his face at once.
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I then weep. I can’t help it.

Why?

Good question.

I am pretty consistent with my belief that whenever we have a strong emotional reaction to something it is time to look inward and ask why. Some inner force drives our guttural, emotional responses to things and, with a little honest, self-introspection we can usually identify the source.

I once heard a preacher man use Truman’s experience to exemplify how this world is a lie and we need to discover the truth of the wall; as if touching the wall is like finding Jesus. However, I can easily see how such an analogy could work the opposite way as well—as in Jesus has been duping your ass this whole time and now you found the truth as you waded through the Christian bullshit.

As I consider my emotional reaction, it had nothing to do with finding faith nor losing it. My reaction had far more to do with the victory found in constant seeking and self-discovery; perhaps touching on that universal archetype in all of us that scratches the itch of the constant craving of seeking, knowing, journeying to new levels of truth and knowledge. That humbling process that surrenders us to the mysteries of the universe, rendering us both significant and insignificant, as we simultaneously find and lose.

After Truman touches the wall and heaves a sigh, he begins punching at the wall, trying to tear it down as he is locked inside that reality: The quest of the human spirit.

This is when I weep the hardest.

That struggle in all of us to know the unknown, to break free from all that binds and restricts, to seek the truth. I realize my entire life is epitomized in that moment. I fight, I struggle, and I want to tear down all that keeps me from knowing and keeps me in a type of protected infancy. I yearn for constant discovery and growing clarity of life and the universe.

Truman then weeps realizing he had been living a lie. And the greatest lie we ever could believe? Thinking we know. Truth? We don’t know shit.

This was not the end of Truman’s journey; it was just the beginning. We can all start to really live life when we realize we don’t know shit.

I suppose if I was having an epiphany around the same time this movie came out it would be this: We really don’t know shit. That is a tough pill to swallow yet when you finally digest it, it is the most liberating position in life.

I frequently tell my classes that your education begins once you realize how much you DON’T know.

Was this scene great art? I don’t know enough about film making to tell you. What I do know is that it touched me as I was attempting to break down some walls of my own, on my own road of self-discovery and truth. And what have I found since I first viewed this movie?

I haven’t found shit…and I have never been happier.

And The Cat’s In The Cradle: A Father-Son Podcast with Jimmy and Jordan

Jimmy and Jordan sit down to pod the evening before his trip back east for a whirlwind tour of the East Coast. They discuss what they have learned from podcasting, discuss whether they are more different than alike, and ask why people appreciate authentic experience and podcasting in general. Simone chimes and suggests podcasting is not natural conversation….you be the judge.

 

What if One Day Never Comes? Contentment, Success and The Bastard Time

Turning 50 brings up a slew of new issues one must deal with in life, not the least of which is eventual retirement.  So, today I went to lunch with Rene’ and I asked her poignant self-reflective questions as I ponder the next 25 years of my life and potential retirement.  As I used her as a sounding board, I asked, “Is working keeping me from something I would rather be doing in life? I don’t think so, yet could it be? How come I cannot think of anything else I would rather do? Should I be this content in what I am doing? Why do I never want to retire?”

Oh, and fuck off AARP (Association for the Advancement of Retired People) with all your new junk mail in my mailbox. Yet I digress…

Some time ago I blogged about the concept of success—it was during this writing that I experienced my personal epiphany that many of my currently-held beliefs about life and beyond are very Buddhist in nature; I did not seek Buddhism, never desired Buddhism, yet it appears Buddhism eventually found me.  It is now apparent to me that it was inevitable our paths would intersect at some point. The essential point of that Buddhist blog was: Find what you love in life, do it, and do it really hard—hence, success.

Very Buddhist. Very Jimmy.

However, I realize this sentiment is not true for a great many people.

What if you do what you love, do it hard, and it pays back no reward?

I was reminded of this as I was reading the following post in my online course from an older student, Larry, concerning a concept from psychologist, Abraham Maslow:

“Maslow writes, ‘Even if all our needs are satisfied, we may still often (if not always) expect that a new discontent and restlessness will soon develop unless the individual is doing what he is fitted for. A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write if he is to be happy.’ So many of us have big dreams. I was a bass player for years at one time -that’s all I did and all I wanted to be was on the big stage…that was my strongest desire. Then came the family and the Mrs. said that I have to get a real job. I guess a lot of noise got in the way. I chose this subject because I understand the feelings of emptiness by not achieving my true goal as a musician – it’s like an empty void.”

Back to Larry and his void in a moment.

I am not an artist and it seems the artist relationship with contentment is far more elusive for them than most.  Creative artists tend to have a drive unlike many others. Creators MUST create.

For myself, I am quite content in life. According to Thomas A. Edison, I am also in trouble.

Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.

Epic failure. I suck.

However, according to another American icon, Benjamin Franklin, I got it going on concerning my contentedness.

Content makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor.

So, which is it? Should I be content in what I do have? Or should discontent act as an agent to drive me to soar to new progress and heights?

Perhaps American author and progressive John Steinbeck brings the two ideas together, most succinctly paints the human condition, and certainly makes my point:

Where does discontent start? You are warm enough, but you shiver. You are fed, yet hunger gnaws you. You have been loved, but your yearning wanders in new fields. And to prod all these there’s time, the Bastard Time.

I love that. If it weren’t bad enough, the Bastard Time only serves to chew away at our fleeting hope for utter content.

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Perhaps it is the human condition (capitalist American condition?) to have our needs met only to create more needs to have met…a dysfunctional cyclical recipe for chronic discontent. After all, there is always a next step, always a new mountain, always one who is smarter, wealthier, happier, more notorious…the battle to achieve to the top is, eventually, always a losing battle.

Where does the discontent madness stop and the contentedness peace begin?

To Larry and the rest of those who want to “make it” and will not be happy until they do so, I have many questions. I would say that there have been many a bass player who achieved the dream to play on the big stage, only to be discontent. If we are not content in what we do have in the present, what makes us think we will be content when we have what we think we want in the future? Further, is it the sole acts of playing the bass, painting the picture, singing the song, writing the book, or playing the part that makes one content? Or is it the big stage, the art show, winning The Voice, having a best seller or achieving notoriety that is the real objective?

I write this blog because I like to write. I am doing what I love. Sure, I like for people to read it, yet it is not the reason I do it. Therefore I ask my driven and discontent friends, is it the practice of your art that you desire or the fame and notoriety of your art that you seek? Is it both? Is a lot of the former and just a bit of the latter?

The only guarantee that comes with content is in the content you feel in the moment.

Right now. I guarantee it.

Like Larry, all of us have our bass-player-on-the-big-stage type dream and I believe we should aspire to those dreams with all our hearts.  Yet, not being content in the moment is living in the illusion of the “one day,” as is ONE DAY I will be happy, ONE DAY I will be fulfilled, ONE DAY, when THIS or THAT happens, I will be content. No you won’t.

So the Buddhist leaning Jimmy leaves you with today’s good word: As you seek your dreams, remember that if TODAY is not your ONE DAY, ONE DAY will never happen. The Bastard Time will see to that.