Time marches on
Many years ago, I thought anything over the age of twenty was ancient. Funny how that works. When I hit twenty, the definition of ancient kept going up. When I was twenty, thirty five or forty looked old. Now here I am, on the last year of my 5th decade and on the cusp of my 6th, and I’m finally at a place in my life where I’m not so sure what old is anymore.
Now, some of this might be lost on much younger people, but I’m sure most people at some point in middle age start “getting” what I and many others have said before me. I say “start getting” because I was at a spot somewhere around forty when what I’ve heard before started to make sense. But, it wasn’t until I approached fifty that I truly bought into it and understood it.
We’ve heard the saying, “You are only as old as you feel.” Well, you are as old as you are, chronologically speaking, and there is nothing wrong with that.
I am always puzzled by people who are afraid of revealing their age. To me, most people can tell within five or so years what a person’s age is. So, it’s all relative. When a person is forty, maybe someone will think they are thirty five. When someone is fifty, the guess is usually around forty five on the “looking younger” side of the scale. It’s ironic, though, that some people, who would have been very distressed at the age of thirty if someone thought they looked thirty five, are quite pleased when someone says they look thirty five when they are forty. I’m no exception if someone says I look younger than my chronological age, whether it’s true or they are just being nice. I think that’s true for everyone. But, I don’t hide my age. It’s rather pointless.
So, here I am at 59. By today’s standards, I’m not really old but “upper middle age” whatever that means. We keep upping the limit on middle age and the government wants to as well with keeping us in the workforce as long as possible before drawing social security.
But, that’s another commentary so I will get back on track.
I think that this is an age where I finally realize that there truly is no magic moment when a person is absolutely mature, absolutely holds all the wisdom they are ever going to have, are at the absolute peak of their mental and emotional development, despite what Erikson and his stages of psychological development has to say about it.
Erikson has it right and has it wrong.
His theory is a good blueprint, but that’s all that it is. Erikson didn’t take into consideration that people are not traveling a linear line as they age. Some people don’t get started having their families until they are much older. Some people don’t retire. Some people retire at relatively much younger ages than their sixties. I think the changes in society and how we are and what we do tend to blur and it isn’t as linear or as rigid as it once was.
Now, getting back to that saying: “You are only as old as you feel” does have some truth to it. It’s not just something we say to someone who is having the blues over their birthday. You can’t deny your chronological age, but if you feel young in how you approach life, in your zest for life, no matter how a body “tells” its age, you are young.
So, here I am at 59. I don’t know it all, I don’t pretend to have all the wisdom of the world or all the answers. But, I still can pull a few pranks, I still enjoy music that spans not only my age group but across the board up and down. I’m still learning and always will be discovering things about people, this world, and life in general. I will still have desires and goals and I’ve come to realize that will never change.