Taken by Surprise

I went to a 70th birthday party recently. My first.   Looking around the room crowded with conservatively dressed, neatly coiffured strangers I wondered what I was doing there.  Surely I had walked in on the wrong do.  These people all looked old enough to be my parents.  In fact my late grandmother came to mind too, with her neat twin sets and costume jewellery.

What little mechanism is it in our heads that makes everyone  get older except us?  (Other than kids we don’t see for years at a time and then we are extremely puzzled as to where they went and who these young adults are that have stepped into their shoes.)  The big shock usually comes the first time we catch an unexpected glance in the mirror, having had no chance to arrange ourselves properly, and we see our mother (or father?) looking back.  

The thing is, the inside never seems to align with the outside.  If anyone asks me how old I am I have no problem telling them I am 60-something but I don’t quite believe myself as I say it.  How did I get to be 60-something?  It’s a joke really because I always thought that 60-something was old.  Why are we raised to believe things like this when they are patently untrue.  My mother will be 92 in a couple of weeks, and although she is getting pretty slow these days, and a little wobbly sometimes, she tells me that she still feels the same on the inside as she did 50 years ago.

What if the inside has started feeling old too?  Does this happen to people?  You bet.  But I reckon it only happens to people when life hands them more than they think they can handle.  And I’m not making light of this  –  sometimes life really can dish it up.  So it’s up to us to make ourselves strong enough and flexible enough and compassionate enough and loving enough to be able to survive life without getting old on the inside.

There is nothing shameful about getting older, despite what society would have us believe.  Getting older brings with it so many gifts.  But in order to be able to truly embrace these gifts it’s vital that we stay young on the inside.  And I firmly believe that staying young on the inside helps keep the outside in better shape too.

So how can I stay young on the inside?

By making the right choices.  Choosing to be less tense, to let go more, to not need to be right (or perfect) all the time. Choosing to be more patient, more loving, more generous of spirit.  Choosing to worry less about what other people think of me and directing that energy into doing things I enjoy.  Like going to a Rolling Stones concert  –  all those boys on the other side of 70 now and about to launch off on yet another World Tour  –  now that’s not bad going!