????????????????????????????????????????I had a birthday recently, so it seems a good time to say something about aging:

It normally doesn’t bother me much.

It occurs to me that this sanguine attitude comes in part from living on Cape Cod. Thanks to the Cape’s older demographic, I am usually surrounded by people who are my age or older. Heck, I’m often the young whippersnapper in the room.

And of course, I’m a baby boomer. Most Boomers tend to feel that, whatever their current stage of life is, it’s the latest thing in the Zeitgeist.

All this is very comfortable. When friends get together, the conversation eventually turns to our memory lapses, our bum knees, and the far worse condition of our aging parents. There’s a sense that – even if we’re not crazy about what’s happening – we’re all in it together (even if “it” is a sinking lifeboat).

So I tend to live with the soothing, subliminal sense that my age is The Right Age, i.e. the appropriate age for whatever I’m trying to do and be.

I’m not even aware of this feeling till it’s disrupted, as happened last week. I dropped in for the first time on a monthly gathering of environmentally-minded local entrepreneurs. The moment I entered the room, I could see that a gulf of twenty or thirty years divided me from most of the people there.

Surrounded by vibrant, slim, accomplished young movers and shakers, I was ambushed by a painful sense that I was The Wrong Age. Not the wrong age to be at the gathering exactly – it’s not like I’d crashed a sorority party, and nobody was looking at me funny – just The Wrong Age. Even though the crowd was perfectly friendly, I felt dumpy and irrelevant.

So what did my mind do? I watched with rueful amusement as it began squirming this way and that to find an imaginary role that would restore my sense of well-being, an identity more palatable than Irrelevant Old Person.

Could I imagine myself a mentor to these people? Hardly. Most of the young people there were undoubtedly more savvy about the things that matter in business than I was. (After all, I can barely manage my smart phone). Could I recast myself as a Kindly Maternal Figure or Wise Woman Sage? Hmmm…

Ah, we baby boomers can be such clichés! Perhaps I’ll go for Denial, and buy some Spanx and a sporty red convertible! Or is it easier to just avoid all situations that make me feel old?

I think not. I try to cherish theses moments when my sense of Who I Am gets upended. They can be temporarily incomfortable, but offer such good teaching. Am I going to struggle mightily to be somebody special? Or can I let go of the whole identity thing, remembering the words of the Zen Master, “No I, then no problem?”