Watching the world pass by not all it’s cracked up to be

Published 9:02 am Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I celebrated a birthday recently, my 39th on Planet Earth and 17th on Planet Mississippi. It was fun. There was pie, presents and a bouncy castle.

I couldn’t help but feel the shadow of impending doom creeping across the sky, though. My next birthday will be the big four-oh. I’m starting to feel a little older. There are aches and pains in the morning that didn’t used to be there. My vaunted 6.0-second 40-yard dash time is creeping up toward double digits, and I can’t play basketball without my knees feeling like they’ve been worked over by two angry mobsters named “Rocco” and “Knuckles.”

In my mind, though, I’m still a spry 25-year-old. The spirit is willing. What crushes it is seeing the world age around me.

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Peyton Manning is probably in his last season in the NFL. He’s my age. We were in college at the same time. Charles Woodson, too. I can remember debating the 1997 Heisman Trophy race with my buddies. Woodson deserved it.

Other athletes like Brett Favre and Jeff Gordon are a few years older but still had their best years when I was a strapping young lad. Now they’re retired or about to retire, with graying hair and their prime well past.

I ran into former Porters Chapel Academy pitcher Heath Smith at a softball game a couple of months ago, where he was watching his niece play. Smith led PCA to the MAIS Class A championship as a senior in 2001 and vividly remembers every play of almost every game from that run.

A while later, it hit me that we were standing there talking about games that were played before 9/11 happened, when cellphones were still a luxury item, when dial-up internet was still a thing, and before some of the players we were watching had even been born.

The good old days get mighty depressing when that realization washes over you.

I haven’t yet started to cover the kids of people I covered when they were in high school, or at least I don’t think I have. The day is coming, though.

Seeing things get built or areas developed isn’t nearly as bad as seeing your world grow old. That’s progress. Some day that shiny new building will be 50 or 100 years old, too. It’s sadder when you walk in and can remember the smell of fresh paint, and see it’s been replaced by the smell of dust.

We all get old. It happens. I just hate that it has to happen so dang fast.

Ernest Bowker is a sports writer. He can be reached at 601-619-7120 or via email at

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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