24 comments on 49
2 minutes

My hair is thinning on top. I wondered if this would ever happen. It started happening to my dad when he was in his late 30s, and he tells me his dad went bald in his 20s. Now it’s my turn. I’m glad I’m tall, or everybody’d be able to see through to my scalp. My eyebrows are thinning, too; my height doesn’t mask that. At least you have to look really hard to notice my gray hairs. They don’t show up at all in this photograph!


I can no longer deny that I need reading glasses, but I forget to carry them most of the time and so look at my phone at arm’s length.

My new normal weight, the one my body defaults to when I don’t overeat, is 10 pounds more than it was 10 years ago.

And I tire more easily now. My athletic friends have complained about loss of ability and stamina since their early 30s. An advantage of being mostly sedentary is that there’s a lot less to lose, and you lose it a lot later.

I’m lucky: I’ve aged physically a lot more slowly than most of my age peers. Yet each of these changes in my body has come with some feelings of resistance and loss, and has taken effort to accept.

I decided a long time ago not to fight physical aging. I’m not going to resort to Rogaine or hair dye, and certainly not cosmetic surgery (tempting as it may be as I really hate how my right eyelid has gone droopy). A little more exercise would do me good, though.

But no regrets, because I’m happy and content now. That wasn’t always true when I was twentysomething and thirtysomething. I say it every year at this time: you couldn’t pay me enough to go back.

Happy 49th birthday to me!


24 responses to “49”

  1. Gary Avatar

    Happy birthday, Jim. Forty-nine is not so old. Compared to me anyway!

  2. urbanhafner Avatar

    Happy birthday! I had my first grey hairs with 16. ;)

  3. conspicari Avatar

    “Happy Birthday” Jim. :>)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you!

  4. J P Cavanaugh Avatar

    Happy birthday, young man. I get what you are saying. It is good to be blessed with good genes, and so far it appears that both of us share that. Other than some minor tradeoffs (I have thicker hair but it’s grayer) you could be describing me as well.

    You point out the downside of good vision. Those of us who have been nearsighted since childhood have a relatively easy transition to bifocals. I am never without them. I once tried contacts several years ago. I could do the contacts. It was the reading glasses that broke the deal.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yeah, both of my parents looked like they were in their 30s until they were in their 50s. I got lucky in the gene lottery!

      I don’t mind the reading glasses. I don’t like wearing glasses all day, so it’s a fair tradeoff to carry the cheaters.

  5. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    49? I still felt 30! I’ll tell you when I really felt the difference, some where in my mid to late 50’s…I was doing physical labor then, helping guys out with house flips, and I can tell you that now that I’m in my early 60’s, I look back to even my late 50’s and wonder how I did it! I physically could not do what I was doing just a few years ago…

    Of course, thinning hair just allows you to rationalize buying better and cooler hats.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh, if only I liked wearing hats! Maybe if the hair thins too much, I’ll start buying them … to keep my head warm.

      I’m older now than my dad’s dad was when he passed away, so I feel fortunate: I still have my dad, who’s 75. I’m physiologically a lot like him, so I study him to see where I’m probably going to end up. He didn’t get to do that with his dad!

  6. vanilla Avatar

    Yes, I am in my ninth decade of life and have yet to lose my sedentary. But about you: Happy birthday to a good man!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you!

  7. brickthomas Avatar

    Happy birthday, Jim. Just enjoy that you’ll never be this young again. :-)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I try to enjoy every age!

  8. Bob Dungan Avatar


    Happy Birthday!!

    My father told me he never felt his age until he was about 80. May that happen to you too.


    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I felt my age when I turned 25, and again when I turned 40. I still feel 40 inside!

  9. DougD Avatar

    Happy birthday! I’m a bit ahead of you, and discovered my thinning spot when we got our Wii. I was swinging the controller around with the camera image showing on the TV when I got a glimpse of the back of my head:

    “Heyyyy, what’s going on back there? Why didn’t anyone tell me about that?”

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks! I’m fussy about my hair and use a mirror every morning to check that it’s laying right in the back. So I’ve been watching that thinning spot grow for about a year now!

  10. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    My knees. I can’t kneel like I used to anymore. And these damn readers. *sigh* growing old.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I hear my knees make crunchy sounds as I climb stairs now. It’s amusing.

  11. jonathon campo Avatar
    jonathon campo

    Hey Jim, Happy Birthday! It seems like this is “your” year for sure. You look great. I have a few years on you, and may I suggest cycling? I got serious about 5 years ago, and it has made a big difference for me. Maybe something you and Margert could do together? Best wishes,

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Hi Jonathon! I used to ride my bike a ton. Where I live now it’s not at all bike friendly. So I want to take up walking. I’m still healing up from bunion surgery but once I’m through that look out!

  12. Jason Shafer Avatar
    Jason Shafer

    Wonderful perspective on aging. With another birthday starting to look me in the face, this serves as a wonderful pep talk about the mental angst some numbers tend to cause.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I try not to do angst over numbers. Can’t do anything about their advancement anyway!

  13. Denny Gibson Avatar

    It’s a trip. Just as there’s something interesting along every road you travel or every little town you visit, there’s something interesting about every age you experience. And I’m pretty sure you’re the kind of guy who will look around and see some of that interesting stuff even if you do have to squint a little.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s a fact: every age brings something interesting. Bring on 50; I’m ready.

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