I have to admit, when I was young, I thought this way. But holy wrinkles, Batman! Was I wrong! If you doubt it, just look at Stan Lee. He’s got it going on. He is loving life and having fun. He is one of those people who may look old on the outside, but has more imagination and heart than some 20 year olds I know.
My mistake was that I assumed all old people were the same. However, my experience with older folks was a little limited. My “elderly” world was comprised of distant relatives and the Catholic nuns at school. (I did eight years of parochial education, nine if you count kindergarten.) Even the young nuns seemed old. Of course, all the nuns, young, old and ancient, lived together in the same house, so that may have had something to do with it. Nobody really knows what goes on in a nunnery.
I am not sure why I formed my opinion about all old people being afraid of change or why I perceived them as sedentary. It certainly wasn’t from being around my relatives. No matter what their ages, they were always up to something. Well, when in doubt, blame the nuns. I don’t mean that as harshly as it sounds, but I did pick up that they were a bit immovable in their attitudes toward the evolving world and I think I equated this with age. I found this to be somewhat of an unattractive lifestyle and vowed never to grow old. How is that for a youthful know-it-all declaration?
Ha! That declaration came back to bite me in the ass! Well, the physical part did anyway. Aging is inevitable. I saw first-hand evidence when I looked (really looked) in the mirror recently. My face has permanent laugh lines, which aren’t all that funny. My eyes have so many crow’s feet that I’m considering calling the National Audubon Society to have them studied. I believe I’ve discovered a new crow species that treks across my face when I sleep. Even though I exercise daily and eat good food, parts of me are doing the “shake, sag, and roll” no matter how hard I target them. But that isn’t the worst part….
The younger people are judging me based on my appearance. Ah, Karma, you got me, didn’t you. They don’t see me as someone who is actually drawing breath. Just recently, I was at a function with a mixed crowd, young and old. Even though I was sitting directly across from a 22 year-old, his gaze passed straight through me. He considered me pretty much nonexistent in the span of a nanosecond and I subsequently became invisible to him. Whenever I spoke, he looked annoyed as if his mother had just told him to take out the trash. Too bad, I might have told him that he had cheese on his chin, but I had to find some entertainment somewhere, so I didn’t. He got to wear that little glob of queso all the way home, curtesy of yours truly.
I can’t really blame the younger crowd. After all, I did the same thing until I realized that older people are pretty interesting. They may look old on the outside, but they are still young on the inside, like me. They’ve done things, been places and have great stories that are quite extraordinary. I guess I’m going to sum it up this way:
Old people are like a box of chocolates. Some of them may look a little old, but the inside is still fresh; you will be glad you sampled them. Some of them may look old and tired, and they are, so you lose on those. And some of them are just mysterious; they are well preserved, but it is a crap shoot on what you get (hard and crunchy, gooey and moldy, sweet and spicy – you just never know.
I have to say that my shine has worn off a little and I might be a little squishy around the edges, but the inside is still prime stuff. When I look out of my eyes and see the world, I am still looking at it with excitement and wonder. You may not see me, but I see you and I don’t miss a beat.
So, if you happen to look into the mirror and see and old person peering back at you, remember, you aren’t past your expiration date unless you believe you are. It is what’s on the inside that counts so do something with it.
It also helps to stay away from mirrors when possible.
You are never too old to kick some cat butt.