A recent stop at one of New Mexico’s numerous produce stands provided me with a great reminder about the difference between growing older and growing old. Not to grow older is an end to life, something that very few of us want.

There were two brief examples of my refusal to grow old or grow up. One was encountering a jar of something called “kickles.” I had never seen these before and they were simply pickles that had been kicked up with some famous New Mexican green chiles. The name was so cute and I am such a fan of hot food that I had to have them.

The second involved a little chile ristra. If you’re not familiar with the term, I have attached a picture. Ristras are simply red and green chiles that are strung for the purposes of decoration and later use. The one we purchased was about 6” tall and I was kidding with one of the produce stand’s employees that if I bought it now, it would grow to be very long by spring. She looked at me with a blank expression, suggesting that either she thought I was crazy or she didn’t speak English.

In either case, I am determined to have as much fun, childish or otherwise, that I can have while I am still fortunate enough to remain on this planet. I reserve the right to swing on a playground swing and ride as many attractions as possible in a theme park. While I may not have the physical agility or stamina that I had when I first played with swings, I remember the technology.

Why get old and stuffy when you can still think young and/or playful? Very often, I play games with my students, some of which are mental and some physical. What I don’t want is ever to say, “I’m too old to do that,” which in my world will mean, “I’m too lazy” or “I lost the ability to enjoy life.” Shalom.

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