Don’t Waste Time Acting Your Age

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.

Focus On What You Love

It was not long ago when thoughts of Monday morning typically caused a quickening of the pulse, churning of stomach acids and noticeable tightening in the temples. After the oh so brief respite the weekend provided it was time to head back to the grind. Even if you enjoyed what you did for a living getting back into the swing of things was not always the highlight of your week. Wading through the sea of commuter traffic, fighting for a parking spot, leaping into the first-day-of-the-week meetings where managers shared newly inspired visions of the future magically concocted in the past 48 hours – and this was just the beginning of the week.

When you have to work for a living you can’t always pursue what you love. Priorities are pretty straight forward as you battle to raise a family, endeavor to climb the corporate ladder, and try to set aside a little something for the future. Maybe, if you are lucky or a bit stubborn you can find some time away from the rat race to do what you love, what really lights your fire. Without those moments of escape it can be a long tedious journey.

Welcome sweet retirement! Finally you have access to that so elusive commodity – free time. At long last you decide what to do with your day. It is up to you – so empowering and yet foreign a reality that not all are quite sure how to proceed. One way is to set your sights on doing what you love.

The other day I was scouring the bookshelf in search of a missing DVD when I discovered a stack of old piano sheet music. As a kid forced to go to piano lessons twice a week and put in my daily hour of practice I was not entirely appreciative of the skills I was developing. However, later in life and especially now I truly enjoy sitting down in front of the keyboard and playing a tune. One thing missing was new songs to play. Lo and behold here was a mish mash of tunes from a variety of genre. I happily carried the stack to the back room and soon was practicing the Theme from MASH, Bridge over Troubled Waters, and a collection of Dixieland jazz pieces. The old fingers are not what they used to be when I was in practice but now I have all the time I could want to get better. And now I love doing it.

My recently retired wife has rediscovered the joy of knitting. At another time in her life she was an avid knitter proudly displaying past accomplishments from intricate blankets to sporty caps. Then came the kids and the job and unfortunately there was no longer time to spare on this pastime she loved. Today I routinely find her online searching for new and challenging patterns for future works. Watching TV at night my peripheral vision detects a blur of motion as her hands quickly fly through the twists and turns that result in those unique creations that make the best gifts and home decorations. Recently a friend introduced her to the joy of quilting. I am not talking about just stitching together miscellaneous scraps of material but meticulously creating genuine works of art worthy of hanging on the wall. We will see how it goes but I would not be surprised if she found herself another passion to pursue in retirement.

I realize now how important it is to my own retirement happiness to know what I love and spend my time enjoying it. I cannot imagine waking up to start the day with nothing exciting to look forward to. Even the old job though painful at times at least kept me busy. I don’t do well for long in a stationary position be that mental or physical. I need to keep learning and trying new things. For me there is nothing better than looking toward the clock to see the day has flown by as I reflect with a smile on what I have been doing since rising. And not just doing but enjoying doing. It need not necessarily include any accomplishment of consequence. The real accomplishment is making the most of today doing what I enjoy and feeling good about me.

There will always be times that require me to do things I do not particularly like. However I notice this happens much less frequently than when I was on the job! Waking to a new day in control of my destiny, able to pursue those passions that excite me, that is the retirement I’m talking about. Who has time to be bored? There is so much to do. And I get to pick and choose what I want. I love being retired.