After all what is age, and for that matter, what is aging?
Until very recently, I would only think of age when I had to fill it in a form, or when someone would ask my age, as other than that, I wouldn’t give much thought to it.
I would define age in a very simple way, using only health and mental attitude as criteria. As long as we are healthy, having the drive to do what we want or dream about, and showing the same curiosity and initiative we had since childhood, then we are alive and kicking. Young at heart.
As I live in a different country I don’t see my beloved parents, uncles, aunties and my friends’ parents very frequently. In the last years, I realized with great surprise, that each time I met them they were changing at a rate I hadn’t prepared myself for neither was I aware of it. I tried to see ‘aging’ through their eyes and learn from my latest experiences with them.
Some of the things they said made me have that ‘wait-a-minute’ moment:
- the number of funerals to attend to is increasing substantially and the number of friends still alive is reducing steadily
- forgetting things sets in the fear of Alzheimer’s disease
- pain and diseases becoming more frequent
- realizing that there are not many more years to live
- but still experimenting, enjoying life, remembering the old stories and recounting them to everyone
As daughters and sons, we experience fundamental changes profoundly affecting us as well. We sometimes unnecessarily worry about their whereabouts, their health and their activities, as they used to do about ours. It is the reverse time, the time where we prepare to take care of them, with as much love and attention as they did once for us.
Getting old it is not bad news. The so-called 70-plus are looking younger, are healthier and living longer than their parents ever did. The baby boomers are enjoying a very good life.
I particularly commend great respect to their adaptability to the information age.
Although the internet existed since 1969, the www (world wide web) was invented in 1989-1990 by a British scientist called Tim Berners-Lee, and it was introduced to a larger public only in1991. It is quite remarkable to witness that many 70-plus are well versed with the use of computers, tablets and smartphones. I read on a 2013 research on the use of social networking, published by Pew Research affirming that there are 46% of internet users above the age 65. http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/
There are many funny wonderful situations to cherish from their experimentation. One day, unbeknownst to her, my 83 years old mother, set her smartphone on ‘airplane mode’, impairing all internet connections for a few days, because she was trying to install apps and find more games to play, for her strong desire to learn and explore. Another time, the father of one of my friends wrote a message on a piece of paper in front of a webcam, while on a skype call, because his audio system was faulty, and she asked him to write on the chat box! In the lack of internet knowledge, he showed resourcefulness, isn’t it? And how can’t I not admire my 78 years old mother-in-law, a savvy iPad user, always exploring new apps and gadgets with great interest and imagination.
Our bodies will change, our health may deteriorate and we may even get Alzheimer one day. However, what is the point of anticipating all of these by getting stuck with fear instead of living life to the fullest while we can?
The facts and stories above keep me true to my definition of age. Aging gifts us with children’s courage and ingenuity. We apply ‘new eyes’ to see the world with more perspectives, colors and nuances. We have more freedom, allowing ourselves to refine our choices to what matter. We have perhaps less time to live, but we think and take decisions for the long term and with deeper purpose.
We would be better of using the word evolution instead of aging, and perhaps people would comprehend its meaning, attributing a positive connotation to this beautiful experience, which is in essence, to live.
I have some friends who hate aging, and dread to celebrate their birthdays. They cannot accept the physical changes (the wrinkles, gray and bold hair!) associated with it.
There is no need to hate getting older. I have always enjoyed to celebrate birthdays and life. I truly enjoy each new year, for what I am becoming, just like whiskey or port wine getting better with age.
I am working hard to become a vintage wine! I wish you do too. Cheers!