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Looking Forward To Getting Old

elderly-cake_2165089bAs children, we couldn’t wait to get older.

The first coolest thing was when our ages hit double digits. Then, something else new and exciting was always around the bend. At 13, it was my Bar Mitzvah. Sixteen brought a driver’s license; 18 ushered in the newly earned right to vote; 21 celebrated with (too much) champagne. There was always another reason to move on to the next year. Bring ’em on. Line ’em up! Don’t stop!

However as John Mellencamp lamented in, “The Real Life,”

It’s a lonely proposition when you realize/That there’s less days in front of the horse/Than riding in the back of this cart.

Aside from the fact that it should be “fewer days,” (sorry, I couldn’t resist) the concept is spot on. It’s macabrely humorous that as soon as one begins to realize he’s on the downward slope of the hill, vainly pumping the brakes, the calendar’s pages flip ever faster. When we were young and immortal, time crawled at a fossil’s pace. As the clock ticks louder, it also accelerates.

The result is many of us begin to poorly affirm what aging is about, viewing it negatively. I mean, yeah, sure, there’s that “death thing” looming out there, which does cast a pallid gloom on post-middle-age. Yet, spending my remaining (hopefully) many years bemoaning a natural and unavoidable process seems a pretty rotten way to appreciate those very years, wouldn’t you say? Therefore, I thought it would be good to wrap my brain around the cool things about getting older so whenever yanked to the getting-older-sucks magnet, I can repel easier.

First, the hastening stride of time allows a much richer appreciation of “smaller moments.” Sitting on a couch with my wife reading, observing a toddler giggle with joyful abandon while chasing a puppy in the park, or indulging myself long enough to simply soak in the red-orange-yellow sun as it melts behind the ocean brings with them joy and peace I rarely took time to experience when building a career or growing a family.

Also, I don’t care as much what others may think. Sure, I’m still disinclined to wear a Hawaiian shirt, plaid short-shorts, checkered knee socks, and black wingtip shoes as an ensemble. Yet, self-acceptance ushers in an attitude of “this is me, take it or leave it”. With that, comes freedom.

Don’t misunderstand; “take it or leave it” doesn’t make one necessarily rude; as aging also carries with it a lower tolerance for cruelty. Never was I harsh, but now, with age, comes the wisdom about when to open my yap and when not. Should I disagree with someone, my credo has evolved from “me first” to “compassion first.” The awareness of how words and actions affect others makes a massive difference in how I utilize them.

Finally, whether it’s the result of these other lessons or not, the unsurpassed improvement about these days in which I find myself is the quality of relationships is far superior to any I had previously. Not only am I less likely to spend precious moments suffering the fate of fools, but correspondingly the people I care about mean so much more now than I ever knew they could. Even better, that trajectory appears to be continuing.

There is fullness to every moment with friends and family, which – as with good wine or fine cheese – cannot be rushed but only arrives with the patience of aging well.

Scott “Q” Marcus is a motivational weight loss expert who specializes on helping baby boomers live happier, healthier lives. He is a professional speaker, Syndicated Columnist, and the CRP (Chief Recovering Perfectionist) of ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a site for people who are tired of making promises to themselves but are willing to do what it takes to actually makes changes. In addition, he conducts speeches, workshops, and presentations throughout the country on how to achieve goals, improve attitude, and enjoy the process. You can contact him for speaking, coaching or consulting, or you can sign up for his free weekly “Monday Motivational Memo” at http://www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com

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Personal Views on Aging

benefits-of-juicing_grandeWhen I think of aging, I think of my grandparents. They are old, retired, vacationers, wise, stubborn, strong-willed, move slower, nap often, funny, loving, and many other things. My grandparents are my prime example of aging. They are the oldest people that I am around most often. My ideas of aging are likely heavily influenced by these important figures in my life. But I also look towards the media to form my ideas of aging.

My basic idea of aging has to do with the passage of time and accumulation of wisdom. I think of aging as a process. It happens as time passes and includes physical changes. When someone is wrinkly and begins not to be so nimble, I tend to see them as aging. I often equate the words aging and old. Many times, I use chronological years to determine whether a person is aging or old, but I think what most significantly determines who is old to me is the amount of wisdom someone acquires. For example, I do not think of myself as old, but when I see someone my age that has more experiences and insight, they seem older to me.

There are many symbols and celebrations of aging in our culture: a child first learns to walk, starts speaking, loses a baby tooth, starts school, learns to drive, graduates, moves away, gets married, has children, retires. A person’s aging is also signified with each birthday that passes.

There are many positive and negative aspects of aging. As someone grows, they can be more independent and have the capability to choose what they want to do. I think that this can be fun and great in the sense that someone can determine for themselves how they would like to live and experience the world. But this also comes with personal responsibilities and stress. When someone can determine how they want to live, they must also take into consideration how their actions might impact others and become more responsible for what they choose to do.

Being old also comes with many positives and negatives. I hope that when I am old, I will have experienced many different things in my life and feel satisfied with what I have accomplished and the relationships I have built. I think it would be a great time to reflect on myself and my choices and who I am. I could think less about what I will do and stress and struggle less to achieve and accomplish new things. I could take the time to further build close relationships with my family and to teach younger generations from my life experiences. It would be an interesting time to see how the world and people progress as time passes. It would also be a scary time. Things continue to change but I become less able to adapt and slowly find it harder to take care of myself. But it would be interesting to see the world and people from an old person’s perspective. I would be in less of a hurry and might have new insights and appreciate things I was not able to before.

I think my beliefs about aging are quite typical for many in my culture. People often think about becoming old and less physically capable along with gaining wisdom and sharing knowledge. This is often seen in movies and stories. The mentor or wise character is typically older, sometimes has a long, white beard and often has many life experiences to share. These are my current ideas and feelings about aging, but I believe they will also continue to change and develop as I become older.

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