What I think about getting old!

by Irwin Lengel
(Lakeland, FL)

It has been a while since I posted anything here and that is because I am actually on vacation with our son and his family in California.

But, being away from home doesn't mean that I stop writing or posting for that matter. I feel lost when several days go by and I haven't written something somewhere (my pen and paper journal; my online journal, or here with my friends that are going through the same trials and tribulations that we all go through once we retire and get older).

The following post is my take from something one of my friends sent to me to read. After reading it, I got to thinking - gee that gives me an idea as to what to write about this week since I haven't posted anything for a while. So here is my take on getting older - hope you enjoy it.

One of the things I have learned since retiring and more so since having three operations within five months of each other back in 2004, two of which were, what I would like to call game changers, is that the older I get, the kinder I have become to myself and for all practical purposes, less critical of the things I do when I do them. One could say that I have truly become my own best friend.

As we age, we tend to see many dear friends and relatives leave this world sooner than what, in my opinion they should have because they left before they understood how great the freedom is that, if one stops to think about it, comes with aging.

Whether we want to read, play on the computer until all hours of the morning or not get ourselves out of bed until noon, is nobody’s business but ours now that we are retired and more so once we reach a certain age and I will leave the question of what that age should be up to your own individual choosing. And being musically inclined, what concern is it of others if I decide that I would like to listen to country music or line dance to whatever music will allow us to “do our thing” no matter where we are. Believe it or not, being one that enjoys line dancing with my wife, there are many a tune from the 50, 60, & 70’s that we can really do some cool line dances to. As a matter of fact, we recently line danced at a rest stop in Europe to some music that was playing and even got some applause from a group of youngsters that stopped to watch us "not act our age!"

While I am not one for going to the beach let alone go in the water (I never learned to swim), should I decide to do so, I will wear that swimming suit with pride whether it shows my wrinkles, less muscular body or sometimes slightly bulging body without paying the least bit of attention to any pitying glances from those much younger and better built with me. I look at my body as I do my brain, it may be well worn, and a bit grayer, but that merely means that I have been around the block one or two times more than the next person has. True I may not be as fast as I used to be but as long as I get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other, it means I am still in the game. Such marks can be looked upon as marks of distinction as it merely means that I am well-traveled both physically and mentally. Those individuals sending pitying glances upon me for still doing any of the aforementioned things haven’t thought things through as thoroughly as they should have because the fact of the matter is that they too, one day, will become old themselves.

Another area of concern I have, having reached the age I am now is that I am sometimes forgetful. But, let’s face it forgetfulness can be good and bad. I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And, I eventually remember the important things. Besides – who wants to remember the bad times we have gone through. They are gone and over with. Move on.

Other things that happen to us as we age has to do with broken hearts. Who hasn’t suffered a broken heart at some time during their lifetime. The type of broken heart that comes from losing a loved one, seeing a child suffer from an injury or an accident, the loss of a devoted pet. All three of these items have affected my life in one way or another over the years. I am sure that each of us have had our hearts broken over the years. But these losses have made me stronger, and in doing so, enabled me to move on. The thing to remember is that broken hearts give us strength, understanding, and compassion. Being perfect – meaning having never suffered loss or a broken heart – does not enable one to know the joy of being imperfect. Being imperfect gives us that desire and goal to do better and that can be the positive reinforcement one needs to move forward each day.

As I may have eluded to earlier, my hair is no longer blond and is more white than blond but I look at my white hair as a blessing that I have been able to have lived long enough for my hair to have turned white. Not only has my hair turned white but the many times I have laughed over these past seventy some years (more so in the last nine going on ten years) have forever etched deep grooves on my face thus becoming a symbol of the many years I have been around.

Think about it – there have been so many that may have never laughed and so many that have died way before their hair could turn to silver.

I have found that the older I get the easier I find it to be more positive. I find that I care less what other people think. No longer do I find myself asking – am I right doing what I am doing? What if I am wrong? Either way, once done I have the satisfaction that I did what I wanted to do. What was Frank Sinatras' song way back when? – “I did it my way!” Let’s face it, I have been around long enough that even I have earned the right to be wrong.

Bottom line to this entry or post if you will is that, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. It is true that I know I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time grumbling about what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And should I decide that I want to eat ice cream each and every day, I shall do so without feeling guilty. Life (and that is the journey we are all on) is going to be no matter what and all we can do each and every day is rise and meet it with a smile on our face being glad that we were able to wake up and have another shot at being as happy and positive as we possibly can.

That is what I think about both retirement and old age!

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