My father had only one fear, and that was of growing old. Perhaps fortunately for him, it never happened. He died suddenly of a heart attack aged 56, so was spared meeting the destiny of age.
I must admit that I have a similar fear, but have managed to handle it better than my father, though I do get reminders of my age every so often, such as when the ticketing girl in the movies gives me a “Seniors” discount. So, unfortunately I must look “older” than I really want to be.
One of the biggest problems in getting older are the young people who want to slap a label of “OLD” on you and propel you towards the retired person’s home, where you are supposed to wait till you die, and quietly please.
A few years ago, my eldest son (then 29 years old and a strapping 6’6″) and I went to the UK. While there, living with my sister, we decided that father and son might like to go and explore the night life. Upon asking where we should go in town for some drinks and dancing, I was told by my junior sibling, “Oh there’s nothing for you there!” “What do you mean?” I replied. “You’re too old!” was the answer. Resisting an immediate urge to give her a clip behind the ear for insolence I said, “But what about him?” pointing to 6’6″ of youth and virility. “Oh he’s too old too,” was the response!
What a sad indictment of today’s world! At 29 years of age, this young fellow was considered to be too old to go out and enjoy himself? Of course, for me at age 60+, it was practically sinful to even contemplate it!
There is an unfortunate tendency in the western world to write everyone off after the age of 25 it seems, you don’t have to wait till you are 65 to be redundant. But why should this be? The only real difference between “old” people and “young” people is that the older group have much greater experience. There is precious little of substance worth doing that older people cannot do. And I am not talking here about people over the magic (and arbitrary) 65 year retirement age. I am talking about anyone still wandering around the planet unaided, no matter how old they are. For example, if you are 80 years old and want to do a parachute jump, can anyone tell me why not?
The reason I say this, is that by the time a person is 80 years old, they have a fair idea of what they can or cannot do. After all, they’ve had that same body for eight decades, they must know it pretty well by now. The problems you come up against when deciding to do something is not usually a “physical” restraint, but a mental one. You get conditioned by the western society that you are ‘over the hill’ and you must sit in the corner and quietly rot away.
Like any living creature, you need stimulation (and I’m not talking about the ‘stimulation for hire’ bars), and mental stimulation will get you going physically as well. Forget about your chronological age and think about things that you want to do – and then work out how you are going to do these things.
Obviously, if you are 80 years of age and you tell me that you want to run a mile in four minutes, this is not only impossible, but it is silly! However, if you tell me you want to take up running and want to train for the marathon, I will say, “Go ahead!” I might suggest starting off with shorter distances and work on from there, but the concept is the same – if you want to do something – go ahead and do it.
Do not accept “age” as a barrier to anything. Work out how to do it and get on with it. Live life to the fullest, every day, for as many days as you have got left! And there is nobody on this earth who can tell you how long that will be, not even Gypsy Petulengro.