Friday, May 16, 2008


I am a 60-year-old mid-level government employee. Many of my coworkers are young enough to be my children. Those who are my age seem to be ambassadors, department heads, or retired. Sometimes I hear of people coming on as “new hires” for about the same salary I make after 25 years. Many of those “ex-CIA agents” or “former Foreign Service Officers” or “previous special Presidential envoys” or “retired military officers” that you see CNN and FOX as special correspondents or subject matter experts are younger than me. There will soon be two ex-Presidents about my age.

But I’m not complaining. People who rise through the ranks are sometimes gifted, but at other times merely those who plan their careers in accordance with their ambitions. One hears expressions such as “checking off all the checkpoints,” or “sitting around the flagpole until I get my next promotion,” that I’ve never found attractive. I enjoy good health and have a great family. My 84-year old father, who has always been healthy, is recovering from his first major surgery and looking forward to getting back to his morning laps at the YMCA. My children have picked up my love for overseas life and are all arranging their studies and future careers with working abroad as possibilities. Most days I still enjoy going to work.

There are advantages to growing older. Some temptations become weaker and addictions less likely. I can enjoy a fine Cuban cigar accompanied by a Jack Daniels and coke without worrying about becoming addicted to smoking or an alcoholic. One of my favorite authors, Susan Howatch (The Heartbreaker, the High Flyer, etc) had a character musing about how when you first meet someone the thought flashes into your mind for a few seconds, “I wonder how she (or he) would be in bed.” Unless he is rich, famous, or powerful, that doesn’t happen when the person being met is a 60-year-old graying man. I’m pretty sure that women who meet me don’t waste a single second fantasizing about my sexual prowess. All in all, that’s probably a good thing.

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