There seems to be a mindset that aging is a bad thing and that the older we get the more we must take on an increasingly sedate and less active lifestyle. For example, have you ever heard anyone say or imply some derivative of the following…
“You know, when you turn <insert an age> you start to <insert bullet list of looming ailments and physical limitations that supposedly accompany aforementioned age>.”
“Well, that’s what happens when you turn <insert an age>. That’s just the way life is. What can you do about it?”
I reject this line of thinking for the single reason that I’ve seen too much evidence to the contrary in the lives of multiple people I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with.
One of my favorite encounters occurred during a backpacking trip around the Three Sisters mountains in Central Oregon back in 2010. My buddies and I met with 3 people on the trail riding horses: An older gentleman, a lady and a guy in his late 20s to early 30s. The gentleman leaned forward in his saddle with a relaxed yet confident posture as we all exchanged pleasantries. “So, what are you all up to today?” I asked. “Well,” the gentleman responded, “today is my 85th birthday. This is my daughter” he said as he gestured to his right, “and this is my grandson. We’re camping across the meadow down by…”
I was so blown away by what he said, and what I saw, that I don’t remember a thing he said after that. This guy was celebrating his 85th birthday on horseback in the back country of the Three Sisters Wilderness, while other people several decades younger have a hard time getting off the sofa without getting gassed!
The one thing I remember most about this man, besides his comment, were his eyes. It’s hard to describe, but it was as if they sparkled with the flame of life that was obviously burning bright behind them.
I never got his name, but I will never forget him, or the lesson he unintentionally taught me about aging that day. We’re not required to adopt the mindset that tells us we should slow down or throttle back on what we enjoy doing, simply because we reach a certain age. We have a choice not only in how we age, but in our attitude toward aging as well.
This 85 year-old-young guy was just one of many people I’ve meet who, through their continued active lives, are calling “BS” on the lie that as we age we need to slow down, do less, and become less. I agree with them, and call “BS” as well; because through their examples, I’ve seen too much evidence to the contrary.