This week I officially became a senior citizen. And immediately someone asked me how it felt to be 55.

I felt of my pulse, my chest, my forehead, etc., and I told them that it all felt pretty much like the day before.

Actually, I approach my age somewhat philosophically. It's better to grow older than the alternative. And now I will be alert to all of those places that give senior citizens discounts and at least for a year, I will never forget what the speed limit is on two-lane roads.

I have never had a real problem with growing older, given that this is how it works, and I can't do anything about it.

I remember when I turned 30 and everyone was ribbing me about hitting the "big three 0." And considering some of the antics of my younger years, heck I was just pleased to be here. To be anywhere.

It's funny how some people view age. Why is it that some people don't want other people to know how old they are? It's not like keeping this a secret will lead them to the Lost Dutchman's Mine or change the format of the Miss America Pageant.

I recall an instance where a person had it in her will that her age was never to be revealed. Actually, your age is public record if you were born in the United States. And unless someone gave it a lot of forethought, chances are it will be on your headstone. Besides, even if you can make a case for keeping your age secret during you lifetime, it's a real stretch to think it will matter after you are deceased.

Some people -- Willie Nelson not being one of them -- will declare that 29 is their last birthday. Then they go into a state of denial and pretend they are teen-agers until one day they realize that Dick Clark does swan dives into Grecian Formula and Cher has had more body work than Ricky Rudd's stock car. In essence, Ponce de Leon never found the Fountain of Youth. He does have a small town in Florida named after him and a street in Atlanta carries his name. I'm really surprised that no one has a booth at professional wrestling matches selling Ponce de Leon bottled water.

A side note: I've often wondered what his friends called him, Ponce or Leon? I had a childhood friend named Leon. I never knew anyone named Ponce.

I was told by a wise person that one should grow older with dignity. Now don't get me wrong here. I did not translate that to mean one should give up and become rocking chair bound.

In fact, I like to see senior citizens in the gym working out, jogging, and seeking to enhance their quality of life. Actually, I like to see young people and middle aged people doing this as well.

I think growing older with dignity means that one should know when to stop sliding at third, when to quit dressing like a hippie and in general to realize that Elvis has left the building.

I think it's great to think young and to challenge the inevitable with ever fiber of your body. But at some point -- life being an adversary system -- one must accept that his "can do can't keep up with his want to" and adjust a bit. Relish that we have lived long and learned much -- if we are so fortunate.

My dad used to say, "I can still jump as high. I just can't stay up as long." Looking back, I think that was my dad's way of saying, "I'm turning this one over to you." I think he and Mark Twain would have enjoyed sitting on a tailgate, swapping analogies.

Yep. I've hit the old "double nickel." Not only will I not forget what the speed limit is, I also will not forget what my mutual funds are worth.

(Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545. E-mail: dwain.walden@gaflnews.com)

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