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Aging (dis)gracefully

How many of us grew up hearing “Act your age”? In my case, it was “Act your age, not your shoe size.” With the happy status that I now enjoy as an older person, I continue to wonder what that means.

My first question is, “What am I expected to do at my age?” This suggests that we all have age buzzers that go off on various birthdays.

For example:

At age 55, stop skiing and speed skating, ice or roller blading. Take a cooking class.

At age 60, learn how to crochet or knit. Discontinue yoga, Taekwondo and fencing.

At age 65, research Social Security benefits, visit retirement communities and begin making clothes and toys for grandchildren, real or imagined.

At age 70, discontinue all physical exercise other than walking or watering plants. Check your blood pressure every day.

By now you should be realizing that I am completely sarcastic. Recently, I saw an 89-year old Holocaust survivor and veteran who regularly runs marathons. And then there was the 90-something ballet teacher. Both of these senior citizens inspire and motivate me.

In other words, the warning to act your age is entirely meaningless and ridiculous. If acting my age disqualifies me from walking 5K races, so be it. If acting my age determines what I wear, I immediately want to ask, “Whose judgment is this and why do I care?”

We must all make the best of every minute we have available. Creating restrictions, timetables and criteria wastes those minutes and prevents us from enjoying life to the fullest. Dance to the music you love and assume that no-one is watching because they’re not. Shalom.

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