Growing Old Isn’t The Issue

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Aging happens to everyone who doesn’t die. This week I am one year older. Don’t ask. Some things are not for publication. As far as aging is concerned, I agree with Dylan Thomas who wrote….’do not go gently into the night; old age should burn and rave at close of day’. When people ask my age I have to do the math. I really don’t remember. Forgetting my age is an acquired ability that has worked well for me. This skill has kept me young at heart and very optimistic. I would recommend this type of defiance to anyone who wants a better perspective on life. I believe the quality of ones life is affected by ones attitude.

Aging bodies do function differently, but our health doesn’t automatically deteriorate with each birthday. Too many people associate aging with sickness and disease, believing that they will suffer the ill effects of all sorts of maladies at a certain age because‘IT’runs in the family; or believing that death is lurking behind Birthday Door # 40, 50 or 60 because their parents died at that age. This mentality causes people to live less joyfully than they could. Those who are expecting to get sick, expecting to lose their mental capabilities, or expecting to become useless at a certain age, frequently get what is expected. Like Job, their worst fears will all come true. (Job 3:25 )

Here’s a heads-up to all who are bound to travel down this road. Sight is lost as floaters appear. Joints stiffen and muscles ache with changing weather. The bladder weakens making laughing in public a challenge. Hair thins allowing the scalp to tan. Women gain testosterone and chin hair; men lose it and gain sensitivity. Skin elasticity becomes a fond memory; aging skin does not snap back. It bunches up when pinched; like silly putty it remains in place until reshaped. The skin which gathers in folds around the knees is proof positive that gravity really works. So, wearing shorts for anything other than comfort is delusional.

Our appearance changes with time. That’s just the way it is. Those of us who used to stop traffic as we strutted down the street are now being escorted across it instead. Our body slowly morphs into something alien while we are having a life. And one day, reality catches us off guard and hits us hard in the gut. A belly punch comes when you notice the worn-out appearance of that guy or gal in the window, and suddenly realize the reflection is yours. Another punch lands when you take a look at yourself in the group shot of that special event. Recalling how much time it took to get all decked out; you realize it wasn’t quite long enough.

The people who can’t live with their changing appearance, and have the means to do something about it, may try making a come-back. Regrettably, the stretching, cutting and tucking back of sagging skin doesn’t work as claimed; frequently the supposed remedy is worse than allowing nature to take its cruel course. Maybe it’s just me, but trading wrinkles to look like a bad plastic caricature is not a better choice. Who wants a face that has, what my mother used to call, the‘Ever Startled Look’?

I think I have this life thing figured out. God designed us to slowly lose our looks and our capability to work and play hard so that we have nothing left here to hold on to. As it gets progressively harder for us to do what used to come easily, and as this body loses its original luster, the desire to trade it out for the transfigured version gets stronger.

Losing our pizazz or ability to jump over tall buildings should not be cause for depression or drastic make-overs. Solomon was right when he said that there is a season for everything. If this is the season my barn is looking old and ugly I will throw a little more paint at it. With each passing year it may take a little more paint and a little more caulk to fill in the cracks; but I am resolute to do the best I can with whatever I’ve got left. And I am determined to keep deepening these laugh lines. The ability to laugh and enjoy each stage of our lives, in spite of our aging bodies, and in spite of any circumstance, comes from the security of knowing who we really are and feeling good about it.

The good ole days are here and now; and, they will keep slipping away as we look back at‘how it used to be’. Enduring desirability and prowess are unreachable goals. Whereas, enhancement of our spiritual, emotional and physical well being are within reach. Growing old is not the issue that should concern us. Growing up is. To determine if we have achieved this crucial goal, we need to ask ourselves a few questions:

Have we matured in character and wisdom with each passing year? Have we learned anything of value during this aging process? What have we done with our time that has made a difference in someone’s life? Even if all we have is one day left we should make the most of it. It is never too late to do what was not done in our prime. We should all take advantage of every opportunity to leave a good legacy behind. As mirrors reflect our physical condition, our behavior reflects our heart condition…and that my friends, is what really matters.

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