How old are you? Please don’t give me that woo-woo crap about it being ‘just a number.’ If you are old, it matters. “What is old,” you ask? It’s 15 years older than the person judging old. At 20, it’s 35; 50 thinks it is 65. I think old is 85, but I know a few of 80-year-olds who say it might be 80.
I thought I was old on my 30th birthday. I used to hear “don’t trust anyone over 30.” The guy who invented that phrase is now 79 – just saying. We haven’t been able to trust him for almost 50 years. I’m sure that he didn’t trust me even when I was 25.
So, I know when I made the change from young to old. It was about 40 years ago.
Have you resigned yourself to the “it’s just a number that’s too friggin’ big” mentality? I’m not complaining about being old. Old people do not intend to complain about age. It is, after all, a successful result. On the other hand, the various consequences of age can’t be overlooked.
How Old is Old Enough?
If we live long enough, we share one important thing with many teenagers – we become bored easily. Old people can be annoying to some young people (15 years, remember). The thought that the feeling may be mutual seems to escape many. Most older folks that I know are working away at life. I know writers in their 80s and 90s who write every day, are working on writing books, and are making plans to publish.
I retired a little late at 68. A 40-something friend who knew my plans said to me, “I want to be where you are some day.” I replied, “Good! Quit smoking and drive safe. Drink some, have lots of sex, and save every dollar you can.”
Of course, he wanted to know if I thought having sex contributed to a long life. I said, “No, it doesn’t. But if you don’t last, you won’t be sorry about that part.” I told him that he only needed enough money in retirement, but no one knows how much that is. There’s no penalty for having too much, but there is for not having enough.
I live in an over-55, “active” community. Some folks here are more active than others, but most are kind of amazing. I took a blogging class where I met a lady of 92. She’s smart, funny, and still learning. She taught art classes and one of her subjects was art by carving vegetables. She made a scrap-book of pictures and writings on veggie art. She is an expert. Based on her experience, maybe the only nonagenarian expert. She wants to publish this in a blog. I can look past the outer physical things that show up when one is 90+. This lady is a master at her craft and learning another so she can share the first. I think that’s cool. In heart and mind, she is young, enthusiastic, and capable.
I just returned from a “Personal Creative Writing” class. There are 15-to-20 of us taking the class. Most are interested in writing life stories or memoirs. These folks are talented writers; some are published authors; all are able to tell it like it was. They have the ability to make every life story funny, and even sadder memories are delivered with humor. They are good at their craft, but no one can accuse them of taking life too seriously.
I changed my mind. Age is just a number. Attitude matters and it matters at any age or any number. What matters to you?
Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess:
Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.
Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.
Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.
Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains — they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.
I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.
Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint – it is so hard to live with some of them — but a harsh old person is one of the devil’s masterpieces.
Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so. Amen” ~ Margot Benary-Isbert