John Seven: With age comes freedom to skip some cultural battles


NORTH ADAMS — One thing that people in their 20s don't really understand is that when you turn 50, everything changes.

Well, physically, sure, but more importantly it's the age where you just do, think, feel, whatever. Want to wear the wrong pants? Wear the wrong pants. Want to say the wrong thing? Say the wrong thing. Being in your 50s doesn't make either of these less wrong, but you're in your 50s, you just don't really care. The right pants is for young people.

Your 50th birthday is your birthday of freedom. No more cultural burdens unless you choose to have them. By the time you're 50, you've seen so many waves of fashion and entertainment, of health and diet fads, of the latest medical truth, of the political theories of how to end poverty and violence and racism and sexism and more that you just find yourself smiling patiently at younger people who tell you they have the answer.

Sure, let them try. Maybe they're right; maybe this time it will work. Probably not, but, hey.

Secret revealed: We're always grasping in the dark. But that's OK.

I've lived in this growing reality for over a year and I think it's great. In my 20s, I had no clue how great my 50s were going to be.

Sure, you've got health obstacles that are out of your control at that point, but if you are fortunate enough to wade your way through all that and remain functioning, you're probably going to enjoy a time of life where you get to choose what you give a damn about.

I was reading about the latest iteration of safe spaces and trigger warnings, this from the University of Chicago proclaiming that these things will never sully their halls, and I thought, "Who cares?"

Trigger warnings — used to alert students of sensitive material that might be uncomfortable, offensive or traumatic to them — and safe spaces, designed to shelter students from certain speakers and topics, have become more common and controversial on campuses across the country, according to the Chicago Tribune.

On one hand, let the University of Chicago be the school for folks who believe they are tougher than all the other kids. Let them have their "Lord of the Flies" university. Whatever.

On the other, who really cares about whether kids want safe spaces or not? At least, who my age does? Let them have it. Doesn't affect me. I'm in my 50s, I'm not precious. I don't get offended or wounded easily. I'm apparently of the last generation to shrug off bull. What does it matter to me if the next generation can't do that?

See? That's freeing, to realize that the central hotbeds of general American controversy aren't about me. I may choose to have stake in them if I want, though.

Contact John Seven at Follow him on Twitter @damnjohnseven. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.


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