The Third Third

What’s your Real Age?

As you no doubt know by now, you can take a test online to find your “real age” – and then sit back and be inundated by drug companies offering to fix what ails you for the rest of your life, no matter how long that may be. The folks behind the Real Age concept are obviously on to something, though, something, that is, beyond devious marketing. Hundreds of thousands of us have signed on to refute the reality our birth certificate evidences; surely someone, something knows better. *Moi? 61?* It can’t be. Which raises a couple of questions: What age would you *like* to be? And if, by chance, you were deemed to be that age, what would you *do*? What difference would it make? While you think about that, I’m thinking about what it is that makes us want to defy and deny our age. If you use the word “age” as a verb, for example, what is it doing that is so awful? Well, . . . . Just look. It’s Thinning my hair Graying my hair Sagging my chin Sagging my flesh everywhere, for that matter, and just suddenly. A year ago, 6 months ago, things were different. Drying my skin Dimming my eyes Yellowing my teeth Disturbing my sleep Upsetting my balance Shortening my range of motion Swelling my joints Putting spots on the back of my hands Reducing my libido Increasing my susceptibility to shingles, breast cancer, and osteoporosis Qualifying me for AARP Developing my eligibility for Social Security and Medicare benefits Deepening my voice Thickening my waist Making my skin and bones more fragile Bruising my shins Reducing my energy; and Destroying my illusion of control of my body, which is, in turn, Pissing me off. At the same time, however – and for this, admittedly, I had to think harder – it is possible to use the verb “age” to describe positive change. Read on. Age is: Providing better perspective Improving my patience Lengthening my anger fuse Deepening my love Increasing my knowledge Enhancing my awareness of things I don’t know Making new friends more accessible Radicalizing my politics Demanding personal growth Developing my rebellious streak Teaching me to say “No” if I don’t want to do something Awakening a new spirituality Fostering a profound gratitude for my blessings Nurturing my hunger for new adventures Diminishing my fear Giving me permission to nap Forcing me to recognize – and take care of -- my good health; and Giving me an excuse to read late into the night. I am drawn to the obvious comparison between these two lists: one external and physical; the other, internal. So would I substitute, say, my 21 year-old body for my 61 year-old heart and mind? In a heartbeat. Well, sometimes. But only if I got to age all over again, that is, to grow and develop and learn and love, to re-do the **living** another five or six or seven decades. Suddenly, I’m thinking: Age is not the enemy here, not even the symptom or the disease. Age is more the merit badge, the number you stick on your chest, or your driver’s license, every time you fill up your tank for another year of “tripping” through Life. Here’s to a Safe and Happy Journey of miles and miles and miles to go before we rest! *The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. What “gets” you about Aging? Please share your thoughts in the Comments below.*
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