"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What’s Age Got to Do with It?

By Micky Wolf

Everything. And nothing.

Depending on our appetite or preference, any or all of the following would satisfy:

Grape or raisin. Juice or wine. Mozzarella or Pecorino.

Now let’s take a different perspective:

Blond or gray. Fit or flabby. Graceful or clumsy.

The choices in the first list have to do with the delights of the table. The second group are more often associated with human beings.

And yet, both lists share one important similarity—they speak of age and aging.

Why is it, then, we are pleased to admit to enjoying raisins, wines or cheeses, but much less so when we speak of gray, flab, or clumsy?


Age the grape or age the juice, and we’re okay.

On the other hand, when the subject has to do with the aging of people—inevitable for you and me apart from unusual circumstances--we too often discover something quite different. Fear. Negativity. Judgment. Downright displeasure.

Until. Until we boldly go where we must—if we hope to live a life of peace and joy in the sunset of our years—and embrace the truth that while age may limit us in some ways, it can, and will, if we cooperate with the process—be a season of liberation and freedom we never thought possible. And I’m not talking about a mid-life crisis or any over-the-hill-damn-the-torpedoes-foolishness.

Back to the first list. It’s pretty obvious these choices offer variety. There’s no right or wrong, good or bad about any of them, relative to their “age”. Each exemplifies certain characteristics of flavor and texture that are pleasing to the palate at that particular point in the developmental process.

But, you say, “That’s not necessarily true of the second list.” Yes. It. Is. And here’s why.

Hair color pigment is rooted in genes. You don’t have to look far to find a twenty-something trying to hide more than a few gray strands.

Then there’s the six-pack abs and sinewy, taut calves. Think those belong only to the age-unchallenged? Get thee to the local park or walking trails and take another look. Flab is an equal opportunity accessory, one that can hang around on just about any body at any point in life.

As for grace and form? If my mother was around she’d be the first to chuckle about the times I fell over myself growing up. Arms, legs, none of it quite seemed to work together. Ask my beloved these days and he might have a similar comment. There are no medical or mental issues involved. And yet, how quick we can be to shake our heads and tsk tsk when we see someone “of a certain age” get one foot mixed up with the other.

I’m not about to suggest we throw the frail and wrinkly out with the bath water. (Wrinkles. Funny thing. They’ve not necessarily age relative either.)

What I will offer is that we need to be spending less time labeling ourselves or one another with a number (of most any description) and more time savoring, appreciating, and finding joy in things that have little to do with a numeral relative to our chronological years.

Labels and numbers can be helpful. I’d like to know the two-cup container of diced tomatoes I’m opening for a batch of chili will not turn out to be spinach. By the same token, that doesn’t discount the value of the latter when it’s time to make a quiche.

All edible references aside, let’s consider the most important aspect of age and aging when it comes to being human—being the best we can be at any moment.

When we consider the length of our years in that light, numbers lose their effectiveness to convince us of our limitations. Instead, we begin to open ourselves to continuing to learn, grow, and be the person God has created us to be.


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