6  things I can’t quite do anymore that I could do in my 20s

OPINION: Father Time is undefeated and he proves this fact nearly every day of my life at this point.

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Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

According to the Bible, Methuselah lived to be 969 years old, and the only question I have for him is, “HOW, SWAY?!” (I suppose that question is for God, but you get my point.) I’m 43 and every morning I wake up my feet hurt. It’s temporary; about 48 seconds later, I feel just fine but that near-minute is infuriating. I’m only 43! But also, if I sit too long, my lower back aches when I stand up. I’m about to take a break RIGHT now just to make sure I don’t stand up and yell. 


I’m back. Point is, if I’m feeling old at 43, I have no idea how Methuselah made it all those years with, like, no advances in medical technology, a non-spiritual pharmaceutical industry or any sort of shoe-cushioning system. I’ve seen those sandals they used to wear in the B.C. days; comfortable they were not. Speaking of shoes, I’m at the point where I actually seek out shoes based on comfort as opposed to just how cool or how much style they have. What is life? This wasn’t life in my 20s or 30s. I’ve noticed a whole litany of things that I just can’t quite do anymore now that I’m … seasoned. Or at least things I don’t do because that seasoning has changed my flavor. I’m running out of runway for this metaphor. Here is a list of six things that I just can’t (or don’t) do now that I’m a wee bit older and wiser.

1. Stay up til 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. just because.

There was a time when I’d be up just doing nothing for the sake of it and then wake up at 7 a.m. to go to work and be fresh as a daisy. I don’t even drink coffee or tea. Now? Fam. I look at the clock at 11 p.m. and ask myself what I’m doing with life since my energy-sucking children will be up with Jesus needing all the things. 

2. Stay at the club ‘til it closes. 

This is doubling down on No. 1. The truth is that I rarely go to the club anymore — I’m married, the juice is almost never worth the squeeze but when I do go, there is literally zero reason to be there when the lights come on like I used to do. If I spent $20 to get in that club, I stayed there THE ENTIRE TIME. Also, now I just go to day parties so I can be home by 10 pm. That whole sentence just sounded like an old dude playbook staple. 

3. Wear uncomfortable shoes because they “look good.”

I never had the money for the super expensive designer stuff, so I wore the stuff they sold at stores that rhyme with Cleve Hadden, which was NEVER comfortable but got me into the clubs with dress codes. My feet would literally remove themselves from my body now and kick my derriere if I were to do such a thing now. 

4. Eat any and everything.

I have literally discovered a whole TROUGH of things I absolutely cannot eat anymore without paying for it, sometimes immediately, sometimes in the morning. It matters not when I pay for it, the price is always steep and I am never happy about it. Point is that I actually LOOK at the menu now to see what comes with those chicken tenders. Yeah, honey mustard is out. 

5. Run up and down stairs.

I used to run track AND cross country. One of our cross-country workouts used to include literally running up and down stairs for 15 minutes straight. It was the worst but I got used to it. Right now if I run up three stairs I rethink all sorts of life decisions and not just the running up the stairs, but all the ones that led me to make that decision. It’s a real rabbit hole situation. 

6. Drink like a fish without consuming copious amounts of water.

There was a time in my life that I vividly remembered not only staying up late for no reason but drinking all manner of liquors and not thinking twice about it. And then I’d get up the next day and do it again. That snapback was quick and beautiful. It’s gone now, entirely. The last time I drank to a drunken stupor, I didn’t feel right for days so I gave that up because, well, ain’t no point. I have kids and a job; being useless at 43 is supremely frowned upon and drunken stupors make me useless.

And that might be the most important lesson I’ve learned in life.

Panama Jackson theGrio.com

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest), but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said: “Unknown” (Blackest).

Make sure you check out the Dear Culture podcast every Thursday on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, where I’ll be hosting some of the Blackest conversations known to humankind. You might not leave the convo with an afro, but you’ll definitely be looking for your Afro Sheen! Listen to Dear Culture on TheGrio’s app; download it here.