Golden? Yes. Old? Never.

Published 8:01 am Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How old is old? At what point do you declare yourself a golden oldie?

Those questions rattle around in my head these days as I feel the approach of another birthday. This one begins the final year of my fifties decade, kind of my sixty-eve year I guess.

Monday someone, a young someone, asked me my age and I answered, “Almost 59.” As I said the number, I thought that it must sound old to someone so young. I remember when 30 sounded ancient to me and I wondered what it would feel like to reach that many years of living. Of course, I was a single-digit age at the time, so anything over 10 was hard to imagine.

It is funny how getting older sneaks up on you. My daddy told me about this phenomenon but I didn’t pay him much attention at the time. Now I understand what he meant.

One day you are imagining what you will be when you grow up, and wondering how “old” people (as in those over 30) think, as you say to yourself that you will never be like them. Then you wake up one morning and 30-something people seem very young to your 50-something self.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bemoaning my age or the fact that I’m probably past the halfway point of my life. (However, I did read that the first person who will live to be 120 is probably alive right now and I could be her – so I might not be halfway yet).

No, being the age I am doesn’t make me sad, and I don’t spend much time longing for those days of being 20. I simply think it is interesting how quickly the years pass almost without us noticing.

Try telling this to a person who is 20 and you won’t get much response. Say it to someone 70 and you get a nod of agreement.

Thinking about years passing set me to considering where I find myself at this point in my journey, and I have to say I like it just fine. Counting my blessings, I’m happy to have all my own teeth and a nice head of hair, sprinkled with gray but nice. The important parts seem to be in good working order; heart ticks regularly, lungs bring in plenty of air and stuff in the lower extremities functions (a few changes but that isn’t for airing in public).

There are a few cracks and pops now and then when I move, but I can touch my toes and bend my knees. So, as far as the body goes I’m doing OK.

Even better than the blessing of a healthy body is the gift of feeling content with my life. I like where I am. I like the folks I’m with and the experiences I’m having. Most of the time I feel good and happy, which I think is something worth celebrating.

Maybe in the eyes of our youth-oriented culture, I am pretty close to old, but that’s fine because now I know the secret my daddy tried to share with me.

The number of birthdays you have is not what determines your state of mind. It’s not about how many years you’ve lived, but how happy you are at this moment in your life. You see the secret is that all of us, no matter how young or old, only have this moment, this breath in which to live.

The years behind us are gone and the days ahead aren’t here yet. Right now is the gift we share no matter how many birthdays have come and gone.

Therefore, my plan is to live every moment I have as fully and as joyfully as I can. And when I hit my 120th birthday, I might think about declaring myself a golden oldie.