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When Are You Old?

I’m not sure if it’s the pandemic times we live in or the age that I’m inhabiting, but I’ve noticed each morning I’m consulting the Obituary section of the paper before the Sports page.

Victor Hugo suggested, “40 is the old age of youth, and 50 is the young of old age.” So, what the heck is 60?

Young-at-heart and old-of-soul, I’ve become a “body bookkeeper.” And, the math ain’t looking great. I thought I had been earning good-living “brownie points” my whole life, but they now all seem to have taken up residence in my mid-section. As I get older, my gut instinct is getting better…and bigger!

Nelson Rockefeller said, “There are three periods in life: youth, middle age and ‘how well you look.’” I think there’s a fourth period, which I call the “I don’t give a hoot what you think” stage of life. How freeing it is to finally let go of the many youthful attributes that have now traveled past their expiration date!

Of course, we all know that time is a bully, or as Shakespeare mused, “I wasted time, and now time doth waste me.” In other words, the “what should I do with my life?” question has given way to “How many awe walks should I do this week?,” just as the pressure to perform has given way to the privilege to practice.

And then there are the words of the philosopher Seneca, who wrote, “The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.” (I have to believe if Seneca lived today, he would be teaching workshops at the Esalen Institute). Ultimately, it’s ironic that we often get fixated on life expectancy just as we realize it’s time to stop expecting so much from life. As I suggested in this past post, keep hope alive!

And as long as I’ve turned this into an attribution-stuffed post, I might as well finish with a quote from Truman Capote who said, “Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act.” I suspect he is not alone in his thoughts. However, I have come to believe that the third act of my life (maybe it’s from age 60-90 or so as my friend Ken Dychtwald suggests) is full of lyrical music, and is compounded by the fact that I now have the time to enjoy the tunes and maybe even groove a little to them. And, just as I’m in the midst of getting my groove back, I seem to suffer from a lovely “age amnesia.”

Forget the “ageotypes” or “personal aging markers,” When you’re experiencing “joie de vivre” and living life with curiosity and passionate engagement (and dancing to the tunes in your spacious head), what people notice isn’t your wrinkles; it’s your energy.

And with that, I’m going to enjoy a little dance on the beach with Jamie, our dog, who doesn’t care how old I am. Hope you enjoy this little video about why we appreciate the age of objects but seem to depreciate the age of humans.

– Chip

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