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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Getting Older Every Day

No one has to tell me I am getting older. I feel it without any outside confirmation. Not that getting older necessarily squashes the youthful intentions of my mind, but, oh, those checks that my body can no longer cash. (Excuse the cliche'.) Aging is a reality that daily reminds its owner.
Let me say this--I really do love older people. In fact, I have somehow, entirely unintentionally, become one. Maybe it's just that I have an "old soul." Sometimes, I really believe that notion, too. Many of my even older (I'm 58) friends seem to have a real zest for life. Maybe their zeal could be compared to the satisfaction in taking the last bites of a great dessert or to drinking the last drops of a fine wine. Sweeter to savor the taste of something rare?
Older folks can also be very appreciative and that has a way of making my day. I search their eyes and see that "I know" look radiating from deep within. It speaks of silent wisdom and confirms that I have become a trusted member of their friendly circle.
What some see as rigidity or grumpiness in old folks can as easily be interpreted as behavior after reaching their proper place in the pecking order. Or, as my brother likes to say about the female of the species, "A woman reaches an age of being a Grand Dame entitled to special privileges." I guess that is true of a man, too.
The funny thing about getting older is the trick it plays on the mind. Perhaps because of the shock of facing reality, I never consider my age. Now, another birthday is just another birthday and maybe a reason to act young and foolish in celebration. In my view, I don't consider myself getting closer to the finish line. I know I'm not beginning the race, but I think I'm still picking up speed.
I believe teaching high school for 27 years has had something to do with my refusal to embrace aging. In my mind, the same things that pushed my buttons at 18 years-old still reside. Or, am I just fooling myself with some lingering fantasies? Being around young people for so long has certainly made me feel younger.
I find most older people who enjoy themselves cling to "what got them there." They are a mixed breed of survivors with diverse backgrounds. Many youngsters don't realize that diversity exists because older people usually don't willingly promote themselves at their stage in life. Also,
many younger people's only frame of reference with seniors is their immediate family, thus limiting actual experience.
I mean to say that age doesn't control the person; instead, the person controls the age. This does not mean an older person can necessarily keep a youthful appearance or can master the physical ravages of time. I mean that to underestimate the quality of older people's minds just because of the years they have accumulated is very unfair. In fact, people who constantly do this are missing out on one of the true joys of life.
Let me end this piece by telling you a few ways you know that you are getting old. Here is a list that may help. You can tell you are getting old when...
You give up all your bad habits and you still don't feel good.
You find yourself beginning to like accordion music.
You realize that caution is the only thing you care to exercise.
You begin every other sentence with, "Nowadays..."
The twinkle in your eye is only the reflection of the sun on your bifocals.
You know all the answers, but nobody asks you the questions.
Your childhood toys are now in a museum.
"Getting a little action" means you don't need to take a laxative.
Your medical expenses go up 50%.
It takes longer to rest than it did to get tired.
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