I had one of those days the other day. It seemed like so many little things went wrong. Nothing was a big deal. Each mishap all by itself would have been nothing. Piling them all up in the course of a few hours, however, made me wonder about myself. Finally I decided to stop doing anything and just read so I didn’t create any more minor catastrophes.
How do we know when we’re old? Is it when the number of birthdays we’ve had is high enough that we can’t put enough candles on a cake? Is it when we start to get the mailings from AARP, the brochures for cruises, the info for “Planning for Your Retirement” seminars offered by the local community college or the financial planners in our region? Maybe it’s when our social media posts scare our kids and they call home to make sure we’re okay, then caution us not to do the things we posted about. Yes, I got this from my kids one day though they didn’t tell me not to ride my unicycle or use my stilts any more.
Perhaps we know we’re old when all we talk about is our aches and pains, trips to the doctor and medications we take. Is it when we begin to talk seriously about whether we want to buried or cremated and what we want done with our remains. Perhaps it’s when we’ve done our pre-need funeral shopping just to see which funeral home seems nicer to deal with, has the better price, would make it easiest on our family. Maybe it’s even when we’re at a viewing and realize that our home is furnished in much the same style as the funeral home! Yes, I had that happen once. It made me want to run to Ikea or somewhere and get some inexpensive updates.
In short, I don’t know what the benchmark for being old actually is. As a social worker I once had a run on patients who were all over the age of 95. When I’d get one in his 80’s I’d think, “He’s so young.” It’s all a matter of perspective. We don’t get to choose the number that goes with our age. It is what it is. What we do get to choose is what we do with our time, our lives.
Each day is a choice. A question that comes back to me over and over from one of Dawna Markova’s books is, “What am I more curious about than afraid of?” I encourage you to follow that curiosity and see where it leads. That means you’re really alive (still).