“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”
It wasn’t until this year (when I turned 40) that I began to consider myself “old”.
While I’m sure those in their 70’s and 80’s find great amusement in my admission, for me it’s been difficult to accept that four decades of my life are now behind me. Even writing that makes me cringe.
Lately however, the subject of age has been continually on my mind – especially given the fact that my new co-worker is only 22-years-old.
While I’ve been generally surprised at how well I’ve been able to interact with someone half my age, at times the generation gap is as wide as the Grand Canyon. I believe it’s that “gap” which causes me to brand myself as being “old”.
I now find myself saying things like, “When’s my AARP application coming in the mail?” or “Remember the good old days when record players existed” – aiding in the over-the-top drama that comprises my oftentimes intense personality.
It wasn’t all that long ago when I used to classify myself as “the youngest”. But not anymore. Today I’m the oldest member of my department at work, and the oldest amongst my wife, her two sisters and brother-in-law. It’s humbling to say the least, and difficult to move passed – especially in a society so obsessed with youth.
I think the real issue is that so much of my life is gone. And while I’ve accomplished some truly amazing things, I’ve also dealt with my share of hardships, which has undoubtedly aged me in one way or another.
When I look at my 22-year-old co-worker, I’m looking through envious eyes for all I can see are endless opportunities and nothing but time to take advantage of them.
But I’m a firm believer that as long as we’re living and breathing, there’s always a chance to make a change, and that change might be nothing more than the way you’re thinking.
Yes 40 years of my life are behind me, but in retrospect now, they were pretty damn good. They were filled with amazing experiences, wonderful people and lessons which have helped to shape me into the person I am today.
Challenges and discoveries are a given throughout our journey. What’s important to remember is how fortunate we are to have been given the time to journey at all. Be thankful for your time here on earth and share the gifts you have while you can.
Famed actress Sophia Loren once said, “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”