PERSPECTIVES: AGE – MOSTLY A NUMBER?

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“You are not old until regrets take the place of dreams” – Adapted from John Barrymore

 

We all get old – or die on the way getting there.

Age incorporates not only the chronology of your years, but also your wellbeing, including your mindset. Facelifts and body tucks may help external wrinkles, but as long as they are not written on your heart and mind, you are not old.

What is important is your “Ikigai” – the Japanese word that translates freely into meaning “the reason for which I wake up in the morning; my reason for being”.

Respect Time – which is of the essence and eventually becomes the variable centerpiece but constant reminder of life.

 

Physical

Linguistically we age people from birth: “How old is the baby?” I know “How young is the baby?” sounds strange – until we get used to it.

The physical evidence of age is more visible in some than in others and for multiple reasons. Stay young by way of physical workouts – but also mental engagement and intellectual stimulation. People still run marathons and write books into his late eighties. Vintage 65+ers cover all spectrums of society, from artists to inventors, queens to philosophers, nurses to writers and more.

I have lived in countries where the recording of births ranges from being problematic to almost impossible – due to ignorance, fear and corruption. Makes me think, the simple question to ask oneself is “If I were born in such a country, how ‘old’ would I be if I did not know my birth date and real age?

 

Social

Socially sensitive cultures envy, admire, even revere their aged. However, in most Western countries insensitive speeches by self-serving politicians often make Seniors feel they are a burden on the very same society which they helped build.

Ageism – through enforced retirement by certain age – falls in the same category as racism and sexism, and is equally offensive. Forcing a fit cadre of the workforce to retire is inexcusable and often dehumanizing. It drives many to despair – even though they may still have productive years left in which to contribute to their own and society’s welfare. It strains social security systems, severs them from social circles and friends and often sends them into oblivion – regardless of their knowledge and talents.

As counterpoint though – you should take responsibility to start building your “exit strategy” from the very first month of employment in terms of financial independence, weatherproof relationships with your partner and friends, long term personal health and wellbeing, creatively building your identity and a self-realization based on your vision and mission, your purpose and passions – not forgetting to develop hobbies and relaxation – and ultimately your legacy. Old age has no predetermined upper boundary – you could live to be a 100 or more. So, get moving!

 

Mental

Some reach mental maturity earlier than others – allowing them to think, act and speak within the bounds of respect and dignity. Others are slower to mature and may even stagnate at a point in life.

Counter this by becoming a life-long learner. We are a constant work-in-progress. Nothing happens automatically – except ageing. Everything else needs our participation. We cannot manage time. But we can manage what we do during the March of Time.

Take life seriously but not yourself. Live it and forget your age. The number of years do not make you old. People grow old because they forget their ideals and purpose – thus losing their enthusiasm for Life.

 

Emotional

To age is a privilege – not a sin, or anti-social. Character is what counts. Guard against your Inner Child growing old – even in the face of an uncertain world – and belong to yourself.

 

Intellectual

As we age, life shines with greater clarity. Knowing and understanding things become easier. Life’s puzzles are resolved with less effort. Reaching judgmental decisions seem to become easier.

Having said this, it is important that we also listen to the Young-at-Years amongst us. The “world is getting smarter earlier” and with it we see the younger generation putting remarkable stakes in the ground at increasingly younger ages – especially in the technical domain.

 

Spiritual

Ageing is as much a spiritual journey as a physical one – with challenges taking on different hues. Existing disabilities are added to – and must often be negotiated on a mental and physical front – sometimes with a looming fear of losing control over one’s life.

The aged turn more introspective – often resulting in contentment and peace or sorrow and despair – with the final outcome being one of wisdom.

Balance longevity with a meaningfulness in and of life – with peace and hope. Anchored spirituality becomes one of the cornerstones on which to build yourikigai.

  • So, is age mostly a number?

Well, your body and mind sometimes let you know the number. But punctuate Life with Spirit, Wit, Humor and Maturity.

 

Key Principles

  • How ‘old’ would you be if you didn’t know your birthdate and real age?
  • Ageism is another –ism, and is as offensive as racism and sexism.
  • Some reach mental maturity earlier, whilst others are slower, even stagnate.
  • To age is a privilege – not a sin. Character is what counts.
  • As we age, knowing and understanding things become easier.
  • Ageing is as much a spiritual journey as a physical one – with challenges taking on different hues.

 

Action Steps

  • Stay young by way of physical workouts – but also mental engagement and intellectual stimulation.
  • Take responsibility to start building your “exit strategy” from your very first month of employment.
  • Become a life-long learner. We are a work-in-progress. Live your life and forget your age.
  • Guard against your Inner Child growing old – and belong to yourself.
  • Remain young at heart and spirit. And listen and learn from both the mature and the young.
  • Balance longevity with meaningfulness. Let Spirit, Wit, Humor and Maturity punctuate your Life.

 

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8 thoughts on “PERSPECTIVES: AGE – MOSTLY A NUMBER?

  1. AGE IS A “PERIOD”………….Moses was 120 years when he lead Israel…..we don’t celebrate being another year OLDER but celebrate our BIRTHday……THINK ABOUT THIS: At Christmas we Celebrate the birth of Christ>>>>and NOT that He is now 2014 years “old”

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  2. The recording of a birth date does seem to do something to the people I know, at least. Either we are proud of fitness-to-age comparisons or we are bemoaning the next ‘big’ birthday. It would be nice just simply to be. To go with our well-being for the day! Thank you for this engaging post!

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    • Hi kestrel, thank you for your well-thought comment. In my time I have joined “Big 40 Bashes” of colleagues, whilst also having friends in some Eastern countries who had to make up a birth date since they did not know when they were born but needed one for ID purposes. One picked 29 February !

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    • Thank you Gilly Wiggles! I appreciate your comment. And thank you for reminding me over the years to keep on writing. Sometimes the “pages keep aching for a word”, at other times “words and thoughts connect their own dots”.

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