Has anyone ever told you to act your age? Perhaps as a child stumbling along the road of life you heard those well intended words from a parent or teacher or older sibling, all intent on guiding you safely along your journey. I still remember the ditty “act your age not your shoe size” bantered between friends still living in single digit years. When we are young it seems the whole world is interested in helping us grow up, sometimes faster than we may want. Act your age.
Those words of wisdom were typically meant to inspire us to rise above childish ways and behave more responsibly, to be more grown up. Did they do the job? Whether they did or not we now find ourselves living the role of mature adults. We are responsible for our actions. We can no longer blame errors in judgement on our inexperience or naiveté. We may even catch ourselves repeating those familiar words to assist in some wayward youth’s development.
There is no denying sometimes I feel my age. I don’t always have quite the vim and vigor I used to. Things that took little effort before now require more attention. I have to watch what I eat, pay closer attention when driving especially at night, don’t lift anything too heavy, avoid too much sun, and basically be moderate in all things. It is okay to have fun but don’t overdo it.
Occasionally I find myself feeling a little blue forced to deal with what are typically minor but still annoying difficulties navigating my fifth decade of life. I look in the mirror and see the face of some older guy who seems to have snuck into the bathroom with me. Hair thinning a bit, plenty of “smile lines” scattered across my visage, teeth not quite as perfect as when the braces originally came off – where did this guy come from?
But sometimes I don’t feel my age, even though I may look it.
Out of the blue I suddenly find myself spinning down the hallway guided by imagined music envisioning one of Fred Astaire’s impromptu dances. Driving down the road an old rock and roll tune hits the airways and I crank up the volume so the bass shakes me in my seat. I laugh too much at a silly joke or better yet tell one throwing in wild gestures and exaggerated expressions where appropriate. And if I am feeling really adventurous I may even go for the extra spicy sausage at dinner, something only a brave youngster with ironclad belly should dare. Who has time to act their age?
I realize I have come a long way. Because of what I have lived through I feel better equipped to deal with whatever the world may throw my way. I now have the freedom to do what I want with my time. My wife and I are in a great place, enjoying time we spend together as well as allowing for time to spend alone. The kids are all independent and we truly enjoy spending time together whenever it can be arranged. In reality things are very good.
And so I have decided to start acting my virtual age. I no longer go by the number on my driver license but rather the age I feel in my head and heart. Rather than restrict myself to behavior others define as age appropriate – acting my age – I am going to live as I choose at the particular moment. When I am energized I am going to do what feels good rather than what is appropriate. If something piques my curiosity I am going to check it out. If it looks good on the menu I will give it a taste. Should the urge to dance strike me I will grab my wife and let loose where ever we may be. At this stage in life I am far less interested in impressing others than enjoying the moment.
I am getting too old to act my age. I prefer to act like a younger me. As long as I am able I hope to remain willing. People are living longer these days but the quality of those days is more important than the quantity. Why not enjoy life for all we are worth? Feel free to bend or break the rules of aging. We may not be able to stop the process but we can sure make the most of the journey. In the end it is sometimes better to act the age you feel than the age you are.