“Who’s that old guy who keeps following me around?”
At first I didn’t know what my friend Gary was talking about.
Some friends and I were having lunch together last week. I looked around the table and the others also seemed confused. Gary smiled and explained, “Time is passing too fast. I look in the mirror and hardly recognize the man looking back at me. He’s too old.”
I’ve had similar moments. I’m 52, and notice more wrinkles and my muscles aren’t as tone as they used to be, no matter how much I exercise. How did this happen? Sometimes it feels like just yesterday I was in my early thirties.
I understand and have (almost) accepted that a changing physical appearance is part of aging. My body is different inside too. I don’t have as much energy as I used to. Injuries take longer to heal and new medical issues seem to pop up out of nowhere.
But the part I’m getting at here isn’t about looks or transformation of the body.
My friends and I talked about how we’re more aware of the crunch of time. Our life on earth is finite. How long will we be healthy? Do we have time to reach our goals and take pleasure in seeing our dreams come to fruition?
The conversation got a bit deep and depressing. I don’t want to be naive about aging. I know it’s going to happen, and I actually want it to, because what’s the alternative? Each stage of life is special, yet also bittersweet.
In my twenties, I wasn’t concerned about how many years I had ahead of me. Time was on my side. By my mid to late forties, I realized that time isn’t a luxury.
This reminds me of the song “100 Years” by Five for Fighting.
Fifteen there’s still time for you
Time to buy and time to lose
Fifteen, there’s never a wish better than this
When you only got hundred years to live
One of my friends lives by the adage that age is just a number. She feels great in her sixties, and doesn’t care what the numbers are. I like her way of thinking.
I choose to be positive about getting older. People are my inspiration. Look at Cher. She’s 70 and still performing. Christie Brinkley is still gorgeous and vibrant at 62. Tom Hanks is 60 and continues to make movies. Donald Trump, 70 and Hillary Clinton, 69, are living out their dreams of running for president of the United States. I’m not going to say how I feel about these candidates. But I admire their fierce determination, dedication, and energy to run their campaigns.
A happy and fulfilling life doesn’t stop at a magic number. It’s different for everyone.
My grandma lived to be 100 years old. Up until she was 97, she’d take the bus downtown, play the piano for senior dances, and go to the racetrack. When she was 99 and bedridden, she needed a refill of her favorite skin cream because “she didn’t want to get wrinkles.” Grandma never thought of herself as an old lady.
Maybe when my friend Gary gets older, he won’t wonder anymore who that man is looking back at him. It’s possible he’ll grow into that person and welcome him. He won’t merely be following him around, he will be him.
Gary may even stare at his reflection, and see the amazing young man he once was. And be proud of his life, his relationships, and his accomplishments.
But that realization needs more time.
First image courtesy of here
Second image courtesy of here