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You’re Not Too Old

“I’m too old,” a friend said to me when I asked her to go with me to the (gym). “What do you mean you’re too old?” I asked. “I’m almost 73,” she said, “and when you get to be my age, you can’t do the things you use to do.”

I’ve heard that mantra from people younger than me, “I’m old.” They talk almost obsessively about their age. I wonder if it’s an excuse not to try anything new. When one says one is old, what exactly does that mean?

“I’m old. I’d just rather sit in front of the TV, and watch the world go by, content in my suffering.” Satisfied to live vicariously?

Does it mean one is ready to give up on life, sit down and wait for death? Have they stopped living? Not interested in exploring new areas? Close minded, stuck in the past; unable to accept changes?

Does that mean all the aches and pains remind one of ones age. And prevents them from trying something new?

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” one friend said when I tried to get him to accompany me to a class.   Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. But the dog has to be interested in learning.

From the moment of our birth, we age. Yes, I admit that there are certain stages in our lives when significant changes take place; Going from a baby to a toddler, from preteens to teenager, from a teenager to a young adult, a young adult to an adult, middle age, elderly. Granted, as we age we must endure new aches and pains almost daily. However, if we focus only on those aches and pains, it prevents us from being open. And being open allows us to experience life’s riches.

There are many advantages to growing older. My list includes:

1.  I don’t have to compete for attention from the opposite sex.

2.  I wear what I like, comfort takes priority over trends.

3.  I’m comfortable with myself and with my decisions.

4.  I can stop and smell the roses if I choose.

5.  I’m like a child, my mind is open to new vistas and I’m willing to explore.

Despite my age, I feel young though for the younger person, I’m considered ancient. My body has sagged, wrinkles invade; I’ve got little aches and pains from time to time. I may be invisible to the young/younger, however, I don’t center (focus) on being old. I’m aware of the things I can no longer do. But there are so many things I want to learn, places I want to go, that I don’t have time to think about age.

Things That I Use to Do, I Don’t Do No more

Not long ago, as I was coming out of the grocery store, I bumped into my neighbor. He was driving a minivan, one that I’d never seen before.  Usually he drives an antique white Buick sedan. We talked a bit about friends and family, the usual.  Marveling at the blue shiny spotless minivan, I asked him, “Is it new? Are you planning to take a trip?” “No,” he said. “My wife and I use to go camping in it but we don’t anymore.” He said he stopped a while ago, put it into his garage and hadn’t driven it in years. I asked him why? He shrugged, “Hadn’t thought about it until now. My other car is in the shop. I haven’t been camping in years either. Just can’t find the time.” I understood his response. But it got me thinking. There are a lot of things I use to do that have fallen by the wayside like partying all night, riding a rollercoaster, playing handball, and smoking.  Some things I outgrew, some things I realized were bad for my health, but some things that I really enjoyed fell by the wayside as well. As we grow up and older, it’s natural that we evolve. If we don’t, life has a way of reminding us that we can’t do what we use to do. However, there are things I enjoyed doing that have disappeared without me noticing until something or someone reminded me.  I decided to make a list – Things I use to do and things I’d like to do. 
I use to love to dance; I use to lap swim, go to the beach in winter, hike, go to poetry readings, plays, and visit museums.  I use to go to the movies, play handball, sing and play the guitar. I use to go to nightclubs and listen to jazz musicians do their thing.  I use to draw, paint, and write poetry.
Remember the satisfying things I use to do but don’t do anymore, I tried to figure out why? Family, time, money, physical limitations, and fear certainly are all factors.  I disregarded the things I can no longer do because of physical limitations.  My mother use to say, “Do the things you can do, and don’t worry about the rest.” I decided it was up to me to revive the things I use to do that enriched my life.
Things I’ve returned to:
I have returned to the guitar after years of neglect.
I’ve begun to swim again.
The other day I went to the beach on a chilly fall day with my book, writing pad and ipod, sat down and watched the brave surfers in their wet suits await the big one.
On my list of things I plan to do:
Visit a museum
Take a ride on the Metro and explore L.A.
See a play
Go to a jazz club
Attend a poetry reading
Visit friends. Lately I’ve been too busy, but I must make time.
The more I think about it, the longer my list grows.  Rediscovering the joy I got from doing some of the things I use to do has ignited a spark in me that makes each day something to look forward to.