There is a special loneliness when you get older. When I was younger, I heard the senior members of my family refer to it from time to time. It didn’t mean too much to me until I started experiencing it around my 60th birthday.
When you start reaching into your senior years, you have acquired a diverse set of experiences, skills and talents. Most have had at least 2 major careers, some more. As Robert Hunter said, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”
The first few years of retirement are pretty sweet; travel, new hobbies, even some new friends. After that, the loneliness begins to slowly show itself. It starts when a few celebrities from your life begin to pass. Then, some friends succumb to the myriad diseases that you never heard of until you began to reach your Golden Years.
Eventually, you are faced with your own mortality. Doctor visits become as commonplace as watching cartoons after school when you were a kid. You get to experience tests in machines that resemble the ones you saw in science fiction films and TV. And, unlike family doctor visits of the past, seeing a doctor today will do nothing to alleviate loneliness. Even primary care doctors are too busy with insurance red tape to take time to really know their patients,
Regardless of what’s happening in your life, the loneliness continues to occupy more and more space in your personal continuum. New interests and even more travel won’t keep the fog of loneliness at bay.
After I retired, I started pitching the songs I’ve been writing most of my life. I began as a budding poet in grade school. Playing guitar since I was about 10, it was natural to combine the two. What started coming out were country songs, simple, honest and a little rough around the edges. Even with the ongoing doctor visits, I had time to find the companies that, for a fee, would plug my songs to publishers and artists.
So far, I’ve had a lot of maybes from Nashville, but nothing definite yet. I have placed some songs on the Sirius/XM Country Channels and I’ve had a few meetings with Nashville publishers. That was the first time I encountered the phrase, “You’re too old to consider for a writing deal.” That was often followed by, “A lot of your songs are about getting older. Older people aren’t really music buyers.”
That ridiculous statement gave rise to the lyric “Advertisers say that I don’t exist,” in my song “Call Me a Senior Citizen.” Who says you can’t shine shit?
I spent most of my professional career in advertising and sales, spending 15 incredible years as a program host for QVC. During that time, I set sales records, some that have not been broken to this day, even though their viewership has nearly doubled since I was there in the 1980’s and 90’s. I really enjoyed the teamwork and camaraderie during that time.
A few years ago, I thought it might help to fend off the growing loneliness if I went back as a part-time guest or senior host. I even proposed a show specifically for seniors, with products that would be of special interest to us. “We’re trying to lower our demographics,” was the response. Again, I was too old.
Contacting a few former contacts in the industry, I pitched myself as a guest. I have quite a track record selling technology and musical related products. Even produced a how-to video for the guitar during the 1990’s that sold over 100,000 copies at QVC.
I’m glad I never viewed these contacts as friends. The “too old” comment came up again. Thanks, I’m glad I helped you make millions on QVC. Gratitude seems to be harder and harder to find these days.
Hello loneliness! I will continue to write and pitch songs. I will also continue to pursue some kind of return to TV Shopping. Granted, writing songs is a solitary endeavor, but it might lead to working with a team that realizes the phrase “too old” is about as wrong as a phrase can be. And, although the major TV Shopping Channels have had several bad quarters and the business seems to leaving them behind, they are probably stuck in their youth culture mindset for the foreseeable future.
So, to recap the title of this piece, “What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?” Not lonely, damn straight!
(As for the featured image – Yes, pets are a wonderful way to fend off the worst parts of loneliness. Their unconditional love will give you hope for the future.)
Approaching my 68th birthday, I can relate to this blog. Having just relocated to the Sacramento area, adjusting to the changes at this point in life has its challenges. Ageism is real as is aging. As a pathway outside of my own head, I have started ushering at the theatre in Folsom. It’s an opportunity to be amongst wonderful people and enjoy some quality entertainment in the process. And ya know what? They don’t care about my numbers. They appreciate me volunteering my time. And I feel good. So, it’s a start. But on the flip side, are the lonely moments. It’s a process. Glad you didn’t succumb to the penis enlargement infomercial. Although, that would have probably been hysterical. All the best to you.