I’ll admit it; I get defensive sometimes.
When someone harshly criticizes my leadership or my writing, I may not strike back, but in my mind, I’m hurting the offender. Badly.
If someone suggests I’m fat, I’m quick to point out that at least I’m not ugly.
And when a young-ish guy makes fun of my phone’s belt holster, I tell them at least I’ve never lost my phone or butt dialed someone. Frankly, I was a bit surprised when he said, “Dude, you just showed your age with that thing.” (Or something to that effect. Apparently, I’m old and I can’t remember his exact words.)
His comment got me thinking. Am I old? And if so, does a phone holster prove it?
As I write this, I’m sitting at a Starbucks in Portland, Oregon. Next to me is a group of old geezers. I’m guessing their average age is about 120. One guy looks like he’s older than Moses.
Most of them must be hard of hearing, and people driving by probably can hear them because they’re talking so loudly. One man is yakking about his days as an Oregon Beaver. I assume that means he went to Oregon State College back before they had electricity. Another gentleman (and I use that term loosely since he’s swearing like a drill sergeant), is a Duck, and he’s arguing with the Beaver about who won the world series back in 1962. It was the Yankees; I googled it.
As I’m listening, and again, I don’t have a choice to hear them or not, a scary thought hit me. Would I fit into this group? Am I them? Seriously, Jesus, if that’s me in ten years, just kill me now. How sad to sit around with nothing better to do than gab about the good ol’ days while annoying the other customers at Starbucks.
Here’s why I’m a bit worried: When I look in the mirror, the likeness looking back at me has a lot more miles on it than I imagine. I never think I’m old until my face or my body rudely reminds me of my age. In a way that’s hard to explain if you’re under 40.
So, what qualifies one as an old person?
Gray hair or no hair?
Writing a blog about being old?
Maybe those things count. Maybe not as much as we think.
At the risk of sounding a bit defensive (I already confessed that I am at times), here are some things to think about.
- Maybe old is not so much about your age as it is about your attitude. You can be young and still grumpy because age doesn’t determine outlook; your perspective does. I met a “seasoned woman” at Fred Meyer today. Her name is Judith, and she bubbled with joy. I want to be like Judith.
- Perhaps old is a state of mind. Are you still learning? Still growing? Still open to new ideas? Or not? I’ve known young and old people whose thinking was set in concrete. It’s always best to remain a lifelong learner.
- Possibly old is about refusing to take risks and get out of your comfort zone. Please don’t automatically use the “it’s not wise” excuse to avoid new challenges and fresh adventures.
- Perchance old is that point when you get lost in the past without looking forward to your future. (Or when you use the word perchance in a sentence.) Thank God for your past experiences, but as long as you’re breathing, God still has a future planned for you.
- Maybe old is wasting too much time doing nothing rather than investing whatever time you have as a gift from God? For the record, I’ve seen young people waste untold hours on video games and old people who can’t drag themselves away from the idiot box. Both are making a mistake.
Okay, maybe I’m just a few years away from a whole new world of senior citizen benefits, but I’m never going to be comfortable with the old buzzards at Starbucks. Sorry. Just can’t do it.
I want to be learning right up to my last breath.
I want to be taking micro-light flights and jumping out of airplanes until the day I can’t get out of bed.
I want to lead and write with passion even though sometimes I get the wind knocked out of me by others.
I want to look forward to new days and pioneering experiences for the rest of my life, whether I have a few weeks or a few decades left to do so. The alternative is unthinkable and unacceptable to me.
How about you?
Now, where did I put my phone?
Oh never mind, it’s in my safe and secure belt holster. (Smile)
“Teach us to number our days so that we may truly live.”
Psalm 90:12 (VOICE)