How many times have you heard someone say to you, “Act your age!”? What does that really mean? As you age, certainly past 50, they say you have to behave sensibly, (whatever that means), and once retired well, we can’t have that can we? Absolute nonsense! You can do anything you allow yourself to do within the limits of your ability to move, see, hear, smell, touch and think as long as you do nothing illegal or harmful to anyone else.
Growing old gracefully is a great term. It makes its speaker believe that s/he accepts old age and all that comes with it without moaning about it. I have news for you… growing old gracefully is not a requirement in life. Your body ages, you do not (Isn’t that what we all thought?). Your mind, soul or spirit is ageless. Your body is the shell in which you live. Like the tortoise, you cannot change it, well not that much without extensive plastic surgery and I have seen enough of that on famous stretched faces to not want it.
From the day you are born until the day you die, your body grows a little and deteriorates a little each day, and a lot faster after you reach 50. It is fantastic if you get to 60 and you are not suffering from some awful ailment that makes it difficult for you to get up in the morning. Not everyone is that fortunate. Growing old disgracefully is only in the eye/mind of the beholder, (usually someone who is not growing old disgracefully)! However, there is no such thing, or maybe there is – only you know!
If you stop yourself from doing what you want to do because you think that someone of your age should not do it, you are admitting that you have no mind of your own and that other people know what is best for you. Believe me, they don’t.
Look inside yourself. If you have a dream, no matter how long it is since you had the dream, it is never too late to at least try to fulfil it. As long as you can afford to do it, why not do it? The worst that can happen is that it does not turn out the way you expected it to. So what? You tried! Refuse to let anyone else make decisions about your life. That is your responsibility. Your partner, your family have their lives to lead. Do you tell them what they should be doing with their lives? I hope not, they should be making their own decisions too, unless they are children and really need your guidance!
After 50 it is ok to moan about your bad back or arthritic knees, but it is not necessary to do it out loud. It is also not mandatory to do it quietly. However, it is better to think, ‘darn it, I’m suffering this pain, but I’m not going to let it stop me from what I want to!’ Take a pill if it helps; take no pills if you prefer it. Realise that the pain in your knee is only in your knee. Your knee is a small part of your body, even if the pain makes you feel as if it is in all of your body. Your back ache may well be curable, or not, but remember that you probably made it that way except in certain other circumstances like accidents which may have been the unknown or unexpected event in your life. If you can, do something about it, but do not inflict it on everyone you meet up with socially. They have their own problems to worry about and unless you have some magic cure, most people are not interested in your pain, except perhaps if it is the same as yours and you can swap stories. There’s nothing wrong with that either, sometimes it is therapeutic! Be who you are, you can be sure they are! If it helps, great!
I am not saying that people close to you should not be bothered, or that they do not care about how well or unwell you are. I am saying that your body is your body and you have to accept it for what it is, warts and all. You will have to suffer pain if you have some illnesses. For many illnesses there is no miracle cure. You have to learn to live with it, try to control it as best you can with whatever works for you, or perhaps even try to ignore it, if you can. Electrical pulses from your brain to your ailing parts cause pain, and remind you that your body is not as young as it once was, but note I say your body, not you! That does not mean that your life has to stop. Ok, so you cannot do back flips any more but you do not need to do back flips. Why would you? Do something else instead. A busy mind dulls the other senses. Focus on something else. If you can shut out hearing the traffic around you when you are reading a newspaper, if you suffer constant pain you may find you are able to shut it out by focusing on some other absorbing activity, something that requires attention to detail, like craftwork or anything else which greatly interests you.
The only time illness needs any attention is when it is incapacitating you, robs you of the ability to do things for yourself, or is in danger of killing you. That is the time, and it will inevitably come to you, when you need to give it some attention, probably all of your attention.
We all have to die of something. It will be something quick or something slow. We never know what it will be until we know what it is. In the meantime remember that life is for living, as well as you know how and have the means to support.
You were born a person with a limited life-span but without a set plan or template for how you should behave at any time during that lifetime. You can be who you want to be at any time you choose, as long as you give everyone else their due respect, don’t break the laws that were made to make life fair and tolerable for us all, and do not go around doing things that you know without doubt will be harmful to other people.
Age was invented by man. Many years long past, some bright spark decided to count the number of times the sun came up and invented time. Along with time, age was invented. The day you close your eyes forever is the day that age and time cease to exist.
Make the most of today – your way, and don’t act your age, be who you are!
Copyright © VW Selburn 2014