As we age, we find more things go wrong, than right. I don't necessarily think this is true just for us aging boomers, though. I remember teary moments with my own children when they found out Santa's real name, or how the tooth fairy was funded. From the moment we are born, aging brings its own set of problems to bear.
My mother in law, Kathryn, turned 95 this month. An impressive accomplishment in and of itself, but when you add the fact that she is on no meds, has no particular ailments and her new digs are a definite upgrade from independent living to assisted living, you might be under the impression that life is good. In a perfect world, you would be right. In her world, not so much.
A phone conversation with my boomer friends usually reveals the aggravation of not being able to do the things we used to do so easily. Some are on oxygen, others have back problems, a few of us with cancer or things we can't eat, or how much weight we've gained or lost. Taking care of aging parents, grandkids, the price of this or that. The latter being the boomer variation on walking 10 miles in the snow, barefoot and uphill. The music, the clothes, the hair, all reminiscent of our younger years and yet the echo from the past doesn't seem to resonate quite the same.
Let's face it. It is hell to get old. From our first steps we are walking away from being young and eagerly running toward adulthood, like it was the golden goose. Truth is every age has its own hell. Getting through the terrible twos is not only tough on parents, but imagine the frustration of the two year old. Don't even get started on adolescence. Does anyone every say, I wish I was 13 again? Our teen years are a mix of fear and loathing. Our 20's, we are suddenly expected to think and act like adults with only hindsight of the fear and loathing years to guide us.
There are precious few moments when life is actually good in and of itself. Unfortunately, it doesn't stand still and we are off to fend the demons of the next aging process. Whether it be arthritis, back injuries, disease, death of a parent, war, poverty...life is filled with growing pains.
At 95, if you ask Kathryn, if she is happy with her life, she will tell you no. Ask some teenagers the same question and the answer will most likely be the same. It is hard to pick out the good sometimes from the overwhelming bad news we seem to get everyday. But what if getting old were a state of mind, rather than body?
What if we looked at getting old as a once in a life time opportunity? What happens if today is the one and only time we have to experience? Would that make aging seem all together different? My mother in law says she wishes she could ride a bike again. Would she have appreciated riding a bike more if she knew it would have been the last time she experienced that feeling? I think so. If we spend each day celebrating what an opportunity it was to see, hear, smell, run, walk, ride, drive, laugh, cry, feel, perhaps aging would then be an everyday celebration. Instead of focusing on a new ache or pain, a fight with our kids, road rage, disappointment, frustration over what was lost or not as we expected, maybe we can find ways to embrace the age we are in.
When my kids were young, I always asked them what was the best part of their day, followed by what was the worst part. I ask my grandkids the same questions. Most of the time, they quickly tell me of something exciting that happened. The worst part? The answer is usually "it hasn't happened yet".
Getting old may be hell, but the worst hasn't happened yet. So let's celebrate the best part of the day!