Paper Crane Ornament

The Mystery of Mellowing

Tracey Columns

I was recently asked if I thought men seemed to mellow with age? Honestly, I don’t think this is particularly gender specific. But the question reminded me of a column I wrote a few years ago. I’m running it again, here on the brink of 2014, because whether you are male of female, a mellow approach to life just seems so much easier!


I’ve been making the same commute for over twenty years. Well, it’s hardly a commute in the traditional sense of the word – seven minutes on a two lane road. The maximum speed limit is 45 mph, but that’s for all of a quarter mile!  Suffice it to say, it’s an easy drive and one I continue to enjoy to this day. For one thing, it’s beautiful. I can appreciate the hay fields, take in the sheep in the pastures, or simply marvel over all of the landscape. It’s a good way to unwind at the end of the day.

But recently I saw something I have never seen on my commute, nor on any other stretch of road for that matter. Coming down from the highway overpass, on the opposite side of the road, a van pulled over about 75 yards ahead of me. On went its hazard lights. The driver jumped out of his van, looked both ways and trotted across the lane. Naturally, I immediately slowed, aware that he was headed directly for my lane. I scanned the road ahead of me, only spotting something that, from a distance, appeared to be a bit of fabric in the road. But once close enough, I could see that it was, get this, a full sized turtle! And, like turtles do, he was ever-so-slowly making his way across my lane. After I had safely swerved around him, I could see the other driver in my rear view mirror swooping to pick him up. The man continued on to the side of the road, ran well into the grass, bent down and let the turtle go.

It was a scene that made me smile. “The Good Samaritan of Turtles” was in fine form. I appreciated that fellow’s quick reflexes and kind heart. Finishing my drive, I only wished I had had a better look at him. I’d hate to have to identify him in a lineup, so uncertain was I of his age. But in my mind’s eye,  I saw him as a fellow boomer – there were glasses and some gray at the temples.

Why was this really of any interest to me? Because, as I replayed the scene in my mind, I found myself wondering why it is that men seem to mellow with age?

All right, before you all start writing me about making sweeping generalizations, let me explain. It has been my personal experience to witness two men I love dearly mellow like the finest wines in France. (For the record, I’m talking about my father and my brother. It’s no surprise that, based on my experience with these two, 33 years ago I would fall head over heels for my husband, who is the quintessential of mellow!)

But my relatives aren’t the only men I’ve noticed who are experiencing the second half of their lives with some distinctively different attitudes.  I’m aware of men who, once upon a time, were real firecrackers. Full of spit and vinegar, they were ready to take on the world … and every guy in it. And now, here they are, comfortably ensconced in middle age, and all they want to do is hang out with their sweet little grand children and help them find animal shapes in the clouds!

My question is, why? Okay, so the scientists out there might explain this lovely phenomenon was the result of lower testosterone levels. Could be, I suppose.

Or maybe men mellow with age because they’ve spent too many years fighting the good and not so good, fight. Are they just burned out? Have we, as a society, asked them to play hard ball for too many innings?

Actually, the causes aren’t really what’s significant here. No, what’s important is that many men seem to have discovered that there is an easier way to go through life; not every difference of opinion needs to be a battle nor does a tender feeling need to be withheld from the people they love.

I’m truly happy for these guys! “Mellow” makes for healthier hearts and a better night’s sleep. It strengthens connections with friends and family alike and it sure does make watching any sporting event a whole bunch easier on everybody in the room!

Given the many benefits, I’m left wondering why anyone would wait for middle age to enjoy this easier, and healthier approach to life?

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