If Age Is Only a Number – Why Does Everybody Want to Know Mine?
Getting older is inevitable, but how soon you allow it to make decisions for you is your choice. I know that I am not ready for it, and I live my life without thinking about how old I am. Except when my birthday is coming up-that’s always a reality check! Or when a friend says, “Isn’t it your birthday next week?”
“I don’t have birthdays anymore,” I say, “I stopped those years ago.”
I often get a reaction like, “What a good idea!” Over the years, I have heard other people reply, “I am always thirty-nine” or “I have started to count backward.”
As much as I would like to ignore my date of birth, the world will not. It is written on top of my driver’s license….and it makes me slightly nervous when someone asks, “May I see some identification?” I always hope that he or she does not pay attention to my age, and luckily they usually don’t
When I pick up my blood pressure medication, the pharmacist asks, “What is your date of birth?” I wonder if she couldn’t see it in my file or what knowing my age adds to my co-payment.
I answer in a low voice.
“Can you speak up, please?” she asks again
I repeat it once more an now everybody in the line behind me knows how old I am. Most likely, nobody cares-but I do. You might call me vain, and maybe I am, but hearing myself say my age again and again reminds me of how old I am. It confirms it. This is something I can’t allow, or it will settle in my brain and creep into my bones, killing the spring in my step . Maybe it is a small spring, not like someone who is twenty-five or even forty, but I still walk erect, and don’t drag my feet.
Yes, age is only a number. But, oh, how it influences us if we are not careful. My friend Angela, who is very vibrant, active, and looks years younger than her age, recently had a birthday. When I asked her how she wanted to celebrate, she said, “Oh my god, this is a big one. I really don’t feel like celebrating. Can you imagine? I will be X years old.” (No, I won’t tell on her?
“It happens to all of us.” I replied at the time, but she didn’t hear me.
I noticed that after her birthday, Angela started every sentence with, “Well now, at my age,” or “I don’t know how long I can still do this,” or “You never know, when one gets sick, seeing how old I am now……” She never had those thoughts before, but her last birthday gave her a terrible present —it robbed her of feeling not old.
“Please don’t speak about your age all the time; it is starting to depress me,” I said to her one day.
“But it is true, I am X years old now an who knows what will happen, or if I will see my grandchildren graduate.”
Getting a little impatient with her and not knowing what to say anymore, I quoted my grandmother, who all through my life was a beacon of wisdom for me: “You know if you don’t want to become old, you have to die young!”
But Angela was so caught up in her new image of being old, she did not understand what I was trying to tell her, and continued to list all the things she would have trouble doing from now on.
P.S. This is an excerpt from my book ‘Living Longer Living Well” (more on my next blog)
And Don’t Forget – A Smile Changes Everything!