When Is Old, Old?

when-is-old-oldAn elderly man walked (not shuffled) into a restaurant with his friend, immediately pulled out a handkerchief, and started doing coin tricks for the children who were waiting in line. He pulled a quarter out of one little boy’s ear. He had flat balloons in his pocket, blew a few of them up, and started making a balloon dog for a little girl. She loved it. The man’s friend looked at me and asked, “How old do you think he is?” I guessed eighty-seven, and the man said, “No, a hundred and two; and his wife, who was a hundred, just died a few months ago.”

In my eyes, this gentleman was not old!

On the other hand, I’ve seen people in their twenties and thirties who are overweight, can hardly walk because their hips or knees hurt, watch a lot of television, are often bored, don’t go out very often because it’s too much work, complain a lot about almost everything, seem to enjoy talking down to others, and usually see the proverbial glass as half empty. These people are not much fun to be around, and I see them as old, very old, with rigor mortis setting in.

Years on earth don’t make a person old. I think it’s how a person lives. For instance, I think a closed mind is a wasted mind. When I see folks suggesting that there is only one way to live—their way—I see them as old people. Those who are not interested in listening to others or having intelligent discussions have old, atrophied brains. Those who are driven by their deep-seated biases and prejudices have old or even dead minds. When we allow our bodies, which St. Paul calls temples of the Holy Spirit, to become overweight, we send the message that we are willing to give up twenty or thirty years of our lives. People who watch too much television on a daily basis are old folks. With all the wonderful opportunities we have to develop our minds, bodies, and spirits on a daily basis, people who get bored have one foot in the grave.

I am eighty-five years old, but I never want to become old. My elixir of life starts with getting up early, making fresh coffee, taking time for quiet reflection, having a healthy breakfast, studying some Spanish, and then heading off to LA Fitness to take a spin class or lift weights. I want to write every day, tend to my blog and website, and spend quality time with my best friend, my wife. We attend the theater, go to stimulating classes, attend the symphony, and love to travel all over the world. In the winter, we ski for six weeks, and we hike some of those same mountains in the summer. We are faith-based people and members of a progressive church that provides all sorts of opportunities to serve others as well as become involved in provocative educational experiences. I have not been bored since I was a child. I don’t have time to get old, regardless of what my birth certificate says.

Are you “young” or “old”?


The image in this post is in the public domain courtesy of Sergey Klimkin.