Is Old Age a Matter of Choice?
It happened again yesterday. A young friend of mine – to be exact, she’s just 16 – asked me (very politely!) how old I was – and then (in a nice way!) didn’t believe the answer!
Now, I don’t think this is to do with my youthful appearance (!) and sprightliness. At 66, I still have dark honey-blonde hair (yes, it’s natural, but there is a growing number of natural silver highlights!), but I run to fat quite easily and I am a wonky-donkey (my daughter’s diagnosis!) as soon as I start moving. No – I think it’s more to do with the fact that I’ve never quite realised that I’m old.
Rik and I have always found that there’s generation gap between us and many people, say, 10 years older than we are. We’ve always put it down to having been at uni in the late 1960s – early 1970s, when lots of new things were happening. However, as we’ve grown older, we’ve found increasingly that we’re more at home with people of our kids’ generation than with our contemporaries. I was chilling out with my daughter and her friends once when she was a student. One of her friends made a rather risqué comment, then looked at me, laughed, and said, “I keep forgetting you’re not one of us!”
Today, though, I understood it better when I realised that the old lady I deferred to on the bus was probably 10 years younger than I am.
Thinking about it, I always laugh at my 94-year-young mother when she looks after people much younger than herself in the flats where she lives. She really doesn’t see herself as that sort of age. However, I realised today that I shouldn’t laugh at her. As soon as I start to realise how old I am – and act it – I will BECOME that age. This has very little to do with health, mobility, or even physical appearance – it has to do with attitude of mind.
So, Rik and I will continue to play silly games and chase each other around the house (he always wins). I shall continue to dress as youthfully as I please and to care about my appearance. I shall refrain from taking a judgemental attitude towards my younger friends when they get tattoos and body piercings. Above all, I shall strive not to lose touch with the younger person I used to be!
Image Credit » Picture of me as a student aged about 20 is by Rik Ravado. I don't actually feel any older in my mind than I did then!