On Getting Older, Not Old

I’ve often considered what it means to get older.  This means something different to me than getting old.  I think getting old is going to suck, because I generally equate “getting old” with negative things – insurmountable physical and mental deficiencies, resentment of change, an inability or unwillingness to understand or adapt to changing societal norms and technology.  To me old is not a particular age, but rather a state of being that I will avoid, with any luck, until the very end.

What I mean by getting older is something a little different.  When I was young and stupid and doing quite a few things that weren’t exactly in my own best interests I was was often told that as I got older, these things wouldn’t be fun or satisfying or important.  I smoked, drank, drove like an idiot at times, ate really unhealthy food, all kinds of things.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I suppose I expected that there would be a specific point in time where I would decide that I was “older”; that at a certain age or life event I would suddenly know that it was time to settle down.  Of course, a rather significant event did occur – I won’t get into specifics – and I decided it might be good to quit drinking, and if I was going to do that I might as well try quitting smoking as well.  However, most of the things that have changed in my life have been the result of gradual, incremental changes that have often gone unnoticed in the general clutter and hustle of living life.

Every once in a great while I’ll sit and think about the changes I’ve gone through, and wonder if it’s just because I’ve gotten “older”.  Recently, during these moments of thought, it occurred to me that getting older is not a terrible thing, nor does it always mean that you’ve changed in some intrinsic way.  I haven’t “sold out”.  I haven’t conformed, or whatever you want to call it. I’ve come to the realization that getting older is simply refining who you are, growing, learning, and becoming the person you really are.  For some, it’s shedding the brash bullshit facade of youth.  For others, it’s an epiphany and a sea change in their life.  There are those for whom it’s simply withdrawing further into the lies and deceits to the point of no return.    Getting older is permanent.  Getting older is not getting old.  Getting older is a good thing once you can learn to accept it for what it is.

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One Response to “On Getting Older, Not Old”

  1. Pauldub Says:

    The body grows older. The person grows. Although both of my children are out of the house, I still enjoy this phase as I did the others. Watching my daughter with her son brings back fond memories of her as a baby. My son used to help me cook when he was young, now we sit in the garage together watching the grill while having a cold one. Life is getting better, and I learn something new every day. Old is fun.
    And as an added bonus, I am now eligible for senior coffee at some eateries…

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