Young at Heart

October 6, 2011

My 93 year-old client, A, used to say, “Age: it’s all in how you feel” (said with a thick New York accent). This was a woman who had so much life, and told us younger people about her rebellious New York youth, sneaking out and riding on strangers’ motorcycles among various other interesting tales. I want to be her in 6o or 70 years, walker and all.

On one hand, I know 95 year-olds who are still dating and driving (eek) and socializing, all with an incredible outlook on life, and who say they feel the same as they did thirty years ago. They are the lucky ones. At 95 years old, most people aren’t so lucky, and that can really bring a person down, and make them feel “old.”

On the other hand, I know people who are my age and younger who have been married and had children for years, and some complain that they’re “old.” Does that mean that I’m old? I certainly don’t feel old, and I feel fortunate enough to not feel pressure about where I should be at this point in my life. I feel settled down to some extent, but my life isn’t over – not even close – and I don’t feel like I should conform to what other people think is appropriate for my “age” and take the freedom I have now for granted. I hope I will always feel this way, but I know that the realities of life are sometimes not easy or pleasant and can really change the way a person sees themselves and the world around them, and that it could happen to me.

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Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you
If you’re young at heart
For it’s hard, you will find, to be narrow of mind
If you’re young at heart

You can go to extremes with impossible schemes
You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams
And life gets more exciting with each passing day
And love is either in your heart or on it’s way

Don’t you know that it’s worth every treasure on earth
To be young at heart
For as rich as you are it’s much better by far
To be young at heart

And if you should survive to 105
Look at all you’ll derive out of being alive
Then here is the best part, you have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart

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There was a great movie that came out a few years back, which many of you reading this have seen, called “Young at Heart.” If you’re not familiar, it’s about a group of elders in the Northampton, MA area who belong to a singing group, but they sing more recent songs than they’re sometimes comfortable with, and are led by a middle-aged, slightly obnoxious man who motivates them, but has no concept of therapeutic interaction. Anyway, I enjoyed [most of] the movie a great deal, and what struck me most of all, was that certain group members were living at nursing homes and had serious health issues and physical impairments, but they were still able to take risks, step out of their comfort zones, and really live their lives, despite their hardships and losses. We can all take a cue from these folks.

Today my boyfriend and partner in life turns 30. This number means little to me, and when it’s my turn, next June, I hope I still don’t care. I cherish every year I’m alive, and I celebrate as often as possible, for many reasons. I’ve heard that 30 is the “new 25,” and the “new 21,” and whether or not that’s true, my age is what I make of it.

Negative, life-altering events can happen at the drop of a dime, so I’m planning on remaining young at heart for as long as possible before something happens someday that makes me feel old. You should do the same.

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