Day 23,679: Honoring Age & Youthful Perspective.
Q: When are you old?
A: When you say so. Don’t be so quick to answer.
There are some generally accepted phases in life such as infancy, toddlerhood, and teenaged. A young adult is generally thought to be in their twenties, but the definition of middle-aged, senior, and elderly has been shifting. Lift your glasses (wine not reading) high in honor of this paradigm shift!
I remember once hearing a colleague state that she couldn’t start some exercise program because she was just too old. She was 50! Clearly, she had drawn a line in the sand on being past her prime. I have other friends just a few years older than me who will never visit me in South Jersey because the two-hour drive from the North is too much for them. Meanwhile, I do a one hour commute each day to work for two hours on the road most days. I’m grateful my back allows me, and it’s great podcast listening time.
I once asked a stranger in a parking lot in Cape May if he thought there was an age where it was too late to take up motorcycling. He said yes and thought it was 65. He thought that was when hand/eye coordination might not be up to speed for a speeding traffic around even the most cautious motorcycle rider. I think he might be wise.
At least two older neighbors have moved out of our current condo/townhouse complex because of the stairs. We have four floors of flights to keep our South Jersey house up from any water that might decide to rise. The stairs are an increasing problem for our aging dog, but not yet for us.
Another neighbor in our current complex moved in as he was approaching his 70th birthday. He wanted the stairs, claiming they kept him young. Bravo, new neighbor!
Related Post: Where is Gail Sheehy Now?
In defiance of age and in honor of black history month, I’d like to introduce readers to Betty Reid Soskin, a 96-year young African American pioneer who has just published her first book this month — Sign My Name to Freedom. She is also the oldest, actively employed Ranger in the National Park Service! It seems appropriate that she’s assigned to the Rosie the Riveter Historical Park, as one inspirational woman certainly deserves to be represented by another.
Shoskin started blogging at Cbreaux.blogspot.com in 2003 at age 81, and hasn’t yet stopped. Her book compiles much of her posts and chronicles a life well lived as a witness to history since the early twentieth century. Unlike me, Reid has consistently blogged under the same url while I have flitted from blog to blog now landing here at The Crone Diary. I am learning from this sage, and am committed to now staying here for the long haul.
By some definitions, I am past middle-aged, but I have to admit I feel just middle-aged. I feel I have many more years ahead of me, even if not as many as behind me. That seems very middle to me. I am certainly not yet a senior, and yet seniors around me are advising me to have caution in a new upcoming big purchase because of pending seniorhood.
Here’s the big example. We’re looking for a permanent pied a terre in Philadelphia. We’ve been advised to look at condos not townhouses due to maintenance, one floor units instead of bi-levels due to supposed inability in future years to take the stairs, indoor parking vs. outdoor so as not to have to shovel out cars, and a full-time concierge/door man to help us take in packages. Some of it makes sense and they all almost had me convinced until I realized my next place does not have to be my last place, and likely won’t be. I like stairs and multi-levels in my home, enjoy gardening, and don’t love shoveling out a car, but if the road is at least plowed I can certainly do it, at least for now. And when I no longer can, that’s when I should look for the more elderly friendly living environment.
The next place you live should only be your last place when it’s your resting place and you’re no longer living. That’s my new thinking as I go house hunting. For now, I’m looking for a place that gives me joy, keeps me young, and even if it serves as sanctuary, gets me out more than keeps me in. Seems like a reasonable wish list for a home, don’t you think?
Staying Gun Sanity Focused: Read this Op-ed in the New York Times by Christine Yared, a freshman at Parkland’s Majory Stoneham Douglas high school. She writes: “If a person is not old enough to be able to rent a car or buy a beer, then he should not be able to legally purchase a weapon of mass destruction.” Wisdom out of the mouths of babes, and wisdom we must all work to become public policy.