George Hasara – Columnist
I have a friend in a nursing home who won’t play bingo because “it’s for old people.” Though the quip is probably tongue-in-cheek, it still highlights the principle of holding on to the essence of your youth. Athletically, people peak in their 20s. So, from that perspective, most of our life is spent on the downhill slope. I’m not a skier, but skiing is as good of an analogy for life as anything else. You are trying to make it to the bottom without plowing into a tree and with as few falls as possible. Varying speed and the angle of descent would appear to be the desired method. The following are some of my thoughts and ideas to keep aging from turning into an avalanche.
Never start a sentence with “when I was your age.” It’s the absolute old geezer red flag. You’re inviting the youngster to perform some very uncomplimentary math. “Yeah, like a hundred years ago?” Even if they don’t say it, you know they are thinking it since you once thought the exact same thing.
Don’t be a slowpoke getting out of your car. Sure, I feel like a pretzel after sitting for any length of time, but there’s no need to look like one. Also, try to avoid the two-handed grab of your lower back and the long stretch. Walk it off. Often I like to park ridiculously far away from the store just to get more exercise in. This also helps me spot the car when I forget where I parked.
Be a kid again – get horizontal. Sack out on the carpet, lay on the grass, let gravity do its thing. When lazing on the ground, grandchildren or dogs are useful props so people don’t think that you are having a medical emergency. When getting back up on your feet, follow the same rules as when getting out of a vehicle.
Don’t forget that your generation had the best music (applicable up to 1982). Give yourself some coolness points because the tunes you grew up with are oftentimes more popular with younger listeners than the current dirge of chart-toppers. Your music is still relevant even if at times you might think you are not.
This next one is particularity important if you can remember it. Try not to fret over memory loss. As a toddler when all you know is “mama” and “dada,” it’s pretty hard to forget a name. Add several decades and thousands of people later, it’s acceptable to forget a few. If everyone wore name tags as they should, then that wouldn’t even be a problem.
It’s therapeutic to be shamed by someone who doesn’t allow age or physical conditions to slow them down. Recently I “helped” a double-leg-amputee, wheel-chair bound Vietnam veteran load some boxes into his vehicle. Before I could even think of holding the door open for him, he was holding the door open for me. I felt like a slackard, but I’m better for it.
Try not to look in the mirror for too long. If your hair is combed and nothing is sticking in your teeth, you’re good to go. Otherwise, you might start dwelling on what you used to look like. As an aside, I find it interesting that signs of aging are named after flying animals. Crow’s feet, turkey neck, and bat wings come to mind.
Old dogs do learn new tricks. I’m always amazed by those who continue to learn, travel, develop new skills, and take on challenging projects. Rather than lament on how they wish they had done something earlier, they simply do it now. They may have switched from downhill to cross country skiing, but they prove that hopes and dreams transcend age.
Contact George at firstname.lastname@example.org.