How old is old?
I came across an article in The New Yorker on aging and what our perceptions of it are compared to what it is in reality. It got me thinking what I’ve always believed aging to be and what I think of it now.
When we’re very young – children until early adulthood – we tend to think of “being old” as grumpy, hunched over, hair all white or balding, and scuffling around slowly from place to place mumbling things to ourselves. But something funny happens along the way as you do actually age with each year: you realize it’s not everything you expected or thought it would be.
Granted our bodies change, they do age in their own way in that we “feel” older – more aches and pains, easier to injure yourself, and so on. But we continue to be who we are (unless we are altered mentally by an accident or illness).
I look back at my grandparents who have all passed away and while I never knew them in their younger years, I always glimpsed their youth in how they would act sometimes or things they’d say.
My mother’s mom would sneak sweets and eat them with me when it was just the both of us and giggle. She’d urge me to take more and I always knew she wanted just one more.
My father’s dad had to quickly become an adult at the age of about 17 when his father died and that never left him.
My mother’s dad liked to put on a stern outer shell after having to wrangle his seven kids in his youth – most of them girls – but was just a softy at heart.
And my father’s mother loved to sing. She was always singing or humming something, usually a prayer in Arabic or Aramaic. I even remember her picking me up when I was little and dancing with me.
With each passing year I realize I’m mostly the same person I’ve always been – very sarcastic, always a realist, like to joke around (a lot), and can be pretty immature.
I have noticed though that I don’t put up with much bullshit anymore, but somehow have more patience (I would say marriage and working have helped in improving my patience). I’ll let things that shouldn’t take up my time or mental energy pass and won’t bother anymore with people who are not worth my time.
I don’t care as much about being a certain weight or how I should look. As long as the inside, medical numbers are good, then I’m good.
I do care a lot more about my health, what I eat, how much I exercise, and always trying to find some way to lower my stress levels (still working on that last one).
So I think that in some ways we do grow based on our experiences and relationships in life, we still somehow manage to still be that same person. Be it 5, 17, 28, 35, 46, 61, or 89, we remain the same, just shaped a little more by our life experiences and the knowledge we gather along the way.
I will say though, one thing has never changed with me from when I was pretty young – I’ve always loved the smell and taste of coffee!