Even though our bodies sometimes remind us of how long we’ve been alive, the human mind has the wonderful ability to stay young and vibrant forever. Well, maybe the young part is a misnomer, since the mind also is the portal to our storehouse of wisdom, most of it gained out of the experiences of our years. But the mind does not exhibit the same signs of aging as does the body. Sadly some minds fall prey to the thief Alzheimer’s Disease and while it doesn’t grow older, it loses the ability to reason, sometimes leaving the person is a child-like state.
Why do I care or write about this? Well, this past week, I turned 70, an age at which I once thought I would be very old, but which I now see as just a number (sort of like the Axerion ads on TV). It’s just a number – 70 – there I said it. I find that in my mind I don’t feel that much different than I did when I hit other numbers 30-40-50 and 60. Yes, I can feel it more in my body; more aches and pains, a little stiffness here and a little less limberness there. I’m OK with all of that, so long as I still feel alive and creative in my mind. I enjoy writing now, probably more than I ever really enjoyed many of the more physical activities of my younger years.
So, what keeps my mind young? I think it is the constant desire to keep learning. I’ve always liked tinkering with things, taking them apart to see how they work (although I’ll admit that I’ve never been all that great at getting them put back together) or trying new things, meeting new people and seeing new places. For most humans I think that is a key to staying young mentally – never stop exploring and learning. For many reading is a passion that serves them well in that respect. I fear that the younger generations have become too enamored of Tweets and posts on Facebook and other very short bursts of information or communication and haven’t developed the habit or appreciation of reading a good book.
But, I digress. Back to the topic of the mind not recognizing age – I note as I look at the profiles of the people who follow this blog, or those who post comments to it, that most are also physically young (at least a lot younger than me). I think that is great. I’ve visited most of your sites or blogs and can recognize in many of your posts a lot of the same things in my life as I think back to that time. All of us spend time in our youth searching for our identities. Many go well along in years still using the phrase “when I grow up”. I stopped using that phrase out loud some time back because I realized that I had already grown up and had made choices that defined the roles that I must play – husband, father, home owner, career guy, etc. Inside there was still that little voice that I’ve written about here before saying “can I come out and play” and “when I grow up”.
I’m happy that little voice never went away inside me. It is the human mind that refuses to age. So, if you see me, you might think “look at that old dude”; but I’ll be thinking “what an interesting young person, I wonder what I could learn from them?” Looking at some of your blogs, all of you are very interesting people with lives that look like fun. You’ve already taken an important step to never growing old too – you are all writers, sharing your lives with others. For those who are searching; you will find yourself someday (or discover that you were never really lost, just without direction). For those who have fond themselves, the fact that you have also fond blogging as a means of expressing yourself is important. Don’t get hung up on whether what you have to say is important enough for someone else to read or care. As they say in the Nike commercials – Just do it.
Remind me in 2024 to write about what turning 80 feels like. Damn, I may be an old dude by then!