-even to yourself. Drop age from your thinking. The excellent researcher Mario Martinez deeply impressed me with insight gained from studying centenarians, in Cuba, in Okinawa, elsewhere. Centenarians are people who are at least 100. He spoke of their total disinterest in numbers. The Okinawa’s had friendship established at birth. They ate together, small quantities of fish, seaweed and rice served in a single bowl. They practiced restraint. They enjoyed the pleasure of sharing, thin, up and about, laughing.
The Cuban centenarians live a full life, pretty much doing what they’ve always done. One man rode into the video image on his bike and was greeted with excitement by relatives with whom he sat down at an outside table to share a meal. All centenarians are appreciated for the wisdom of their experience which makes aging appreciated by all. Martinez asked a 102 years old man for an interview to which he happily agreed but not on Saturday when he had a voice lesson. None of the centenarians knew what middle age was and said that they would know it when they died. Living life to its fullest, losses are mourned and then they return to life. A ridiculously happy group.
What is the reason for not announcing your age to those who are “interested” in it which likely means equally controlled and demeaned by their age. They want to share their shame by competing with you over your number. They can lord it over you for being a year or two younger. The competition implies acceptance of this negative standard. It is all about accepting the “loss” of possibilities and of value due to aging. Can you imagine taking this on as your life philosophy. Or course, we need to note that Madison Avenue, the world of salespeople constantly nagging us about not looking old by buying their product. You see mostly women who have had so many face lifts that they almost cannot smile. What is more beautiful, a wide and eye wrinkling smile or a wrinkleless face that cannot smile.
But worse then the immobilized appearance is abandoning your spirit to a number. You cannot get into a low slung car. Blame your age for being stiff. Never mind taking yoga. You erroneously take problems as appropriately reflecting your age. Someone said in my elevator two days ago, to a woman who was clearly overweight, that her physical problems, were a natural state of aging. I said, “That is a terrible thing to say. Do you really believe it?” He looked at me incredulously. It was what he believed and what many of us have been taught to believe. Nothing else is possible but serious decay.
Do not answer the request “How old are you?’ so that they can put you in an age box which you will incredibly believe. The real issue is not their belief. It is yours. Once you accept that getting old is all about giving up which reflects our anti-aging society, we begin to live this way.
Centenarians do not retire. They may move onto new things which challenge them. There is no rule that you must always do the same thing. What have you not done before that you want to do now? If you want to teach, what stops you from setting up shop or from going to school to get a teaching degree? What part of your mind is saying, “You cannot”? What part of your childhood is putting a block in the way of your taking a new, (possibly difficult) emotional and experiential road?
it is a job to remove acquired road blocks. It is like becoming the child you were again to explore and try things out. Unless your parents blocked this way, your child was free to do things poorly or well, and then to do them again or to move onto something new.
Never mind the “You’re too old for this – too old for walking, riding a horse, hiking a trail, writing a poem, learning a language, going back to school, sex. Too old for love. For love??? Who says? Who’s listening? I’m on my own way now.