You’re not old- you’re still just a baby!” It’s comforting to hear that I guess, but the people telling me I’m still a baby are usually over 70. That’s not that comforting. I’m 54 now, and for the first time in my life, I’m starting to wonder if I’m old. Ok maybe it’s not the first time (I did write this blog post a few years ago), but it’s one of the first times.
People would often guess my age to be about 40. That stopped a few years ago. I felt physically better than ever until about 2 years ago. My memory was sharp as the razor that cuts my beard until recently. Speaking of that beard, it turned gray last year and I’m not at all happy about it (see the previous line about “not looking 40 anymore”). This year, I’ve been attacked by some of the same thoughts my friend Troy is currently dealing with (see his post here).
My mind has been focusing on questions like: Are you past your prime? How close to death are you? Are you (body and mind) going straight downhill from here? What do you have to show for your life? What else can you accomplish before you head to the exits? Do you have the energy to do it? Hey old dog, can you still learn new tricks?
All of these questions are bothersome and irritating. I’d like also to say they’re unhelpful and unhealthy, but I’m honestly not sure if that’s true. There might be some value in them as far as self reflection and gearing up for what’s next. I’m not sure. But after taking a look back at my life over the past several months, I noticed that the appearance of these thoughts directly correlates with the weakening of my self care routine. I’m not saying I could have prevented this mini, mental crisis or that I’ve found the magical answers to the questions of aging, but I think it would have helped me to be and feel the best I can, and to deal with thoughts better as they arise. So here is my as yet untested (after all I am only 54) recipe for growing old without feeling old.
In no certain order:
- Do yoga everyday
- Eat a clean diet
- Get proper sleep
- Get regular exercise
- Keep up with what’s new in the world and engage with it (Art, technology,..)
- Stretch your body, stretch your mind, stretch your spirit
- Keep stress in check!!
- Make some younger friends
- Have a purpose or goal
- Stay connected to people and community
And if you’re looking for something more credible, here’s the opinion of some random but wise 70 year-old I found on Medium. Read it- it’s really good!
I know a guy who began running at age 52. He’s now deep into his 60’s, still works a full time job and travels the world to run marathons. He sometimes runs several in a month! He is proof that a strong mentality can lead to deep vitality (running is as much mental as it is physical). I do think a lot of aging is mental, although clearly a lot of it is not. But there are plenty of elders we can learn from, leading to a deeply satisfying middle and later life.
Here are a few “old people” who still seem to be living large, contributing, and doing cool stuff (I did all my research on Wikipedia and YouTube- scoff if you want to).
- Joe Biden – US President – 80 years old
- Jeannie Rice– Marathon Runner-71 years old
- Lorne Michaels– TV Producer- 78 years old
- Tao Porchon Lynch– Yoga Instructor 96- years old
- Steve Martin- Actor/Comedian- 77 years old
- Tom Hanks– Actor- 66 years old
- Judy Woodruff– News Anchor/Journalist- 76 years old
- Tom Brady– NFL Quarterback- 105 in football years, 45 in actual years
- The cast of 80 for Brady– stars multiple senior women, as does the soundtrack
And these are just a few of the more famous people, not to mention all those still killing it in life as “regular Joes”.
When nature does catch up to me and my time comes, I hope to be spiritually and emotionally together enough to accept my fate with gratitude, in the same way my daughter did when she realized she was growing into a new phase of amusement park rides. Until then, may we ride the wave all the way in and onto the beach.