Next year I will turn 70. Not only am I old, but I am getting old(er). LOL!
I don’t know what it would be like to be 70. What I know is that I will be doing the things I am doing now and keep on doing them as long as I can do them – just like this sidewalk vendor.
She’s 73 yr-old-widow with 9 children and as many grandchildren (some of her children are not married yet).
She has to commute more than 10 kms/day, lugging her basket of green mangoes to sell them on the same spot I met her in one day.
When asked why she’s still doing it at her age, with a toothless smile, she said, “Because I can still do it. I love doing it.”
She lives alone, despite the urging of her children to live with them, because she doesn’t want to get into their lives – as she puts it with a smile.
“Aha!” I said to myself. Now I know how not to grow old. Or do I? Do you?
Notice my sleight-of-hand use of words – rather than “get old” I used “grow old” because they are different. To “get old” is an inevitability, while to “grow old” is a matter of perspective.
Getting Old vs. Growing Old
Getting old means having more years added to your life yet, at the same time, you lose some of your hair, some of your eyesight, hearing, balance, appetite and a lot of other things in exchange.
Growing old, on the other hand, is a way of thinking, a mindset. You can be old even if you are young in years, or young even if born after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
It is how you look at life. And that’s what I would like to look at myself next year when I turn 70. And you should do the same.
Look at life through the eyes of your youth, your vigor, your thirst for excitement and adventure.
“Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years.” – Ausonius
I always believe that at this age, I have more freedom to do as I wish – even to be freaky at times. And I am not alone.
A new national survey done by the Pew Research Center shows that:
Most adults at 50 feel at least 10 years younger than their actual age…one-third of those between 65 and 74 said they felt up to 10 to 19 years younger, and one-sixth of people 75 and older said they felt 20 years younger.
In other words, if you start sucking a lollipop right now, there’s a good chance that some people of your age will start doing the same.
No, you don’t have to go that far to prove a point. But Paul Tayler, Pew Research Center’s executive vice president and author of the study said it succinctly, “…you are never too old to feel young…”
I never dwell on my age. Instead, I dwell on the experiences I’ve accumulated over the years, and the people who helped shape my life.
At my age, these things are worth celebrating.
To be Old is to Start Anew:
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16
Oliver Sacks, a New York University professor of neurology, upon turning 80, wrote a piece for The New York Times. In the first paragraph, he wrote:
“My father, who lived to 94, often said that the 80s had been one of the most enjoyable decades of his life. He felt, as I begin to feel, not a shrinking but an enlargement of mental life and perspective…”
So never let the effects of old age affect your vim and vigor of life. Rather make use of them to remind you that time is fast running out and you should make the most of what is left.
If you are like me, maybe most of the kids you grew up with are either dead, too sickly to hang out with the boys, or indisposed for one reason or another.
That your not one of them, isn’t that worth celebrating?
Nobody at this age hasn’t had his share of life’s problems, i.e., money, relationship, children, career, etc. They are very traumatic experiences; they scarred you for life, maybe even made you cynical and pessimistic.
But would things be any better if you dwell on them? They won’t. In fact, they will just make you miserable. They will put blinders over your eyes making you fail to see the beauty of being old and alive and experiencing things that we totally sci-fi during your time.
Discard your past, Put on fresh clothes, comb your hair, look your best and say, “Old age, here I come, the new kid on the block.”
Then just dig in and have fun.
I am sure you have not lived the kind of life this mango vendor has lived hers. Yet, her heart is fuller with joy and contentment than yours.
Please share with other seniors so they, too, will know how to grow old.