What’s it like getting Old?

It’s like this..

It doesn’t happen overnight, but it sure feels like it does. One moment you’re too young, then the next moment you’re too old.

One day you go look at yourself in the mirror and fail to recognize the person staring back at you. It only gets weirder and weirder every time afterwards, too!

I remember a few years back (ok, a lot of years back) an 11 year old child had asked me what it’s like being old. I didn’t think I was, but then I realized that to this child I must have seemed ancient. At the time I was only 24, yet I was over twice his age! Then the kid had the nerve to think of himself as old, saying something about “back when I was a kid”. How’s that for a punch in the gut!?!

What’s it really like getting old?

The best analogy I’ve found to explain what it’s like getting old is this: Imagine yourself getting a new automobile. It’s in great shape and you drive it everywhere. As you get more intimately confident in it’s abilities you start pushing it to do riskier things for you. Longer drives, faster stops, racing other cars. Parking into tight spaces. 3 point turns barely fitting between barriers. You get to know your car’s limits, yet you have fun learning just how fast you can take the speed bumps, and then you push it a little harder.

And then you discover you don’t really need the expensive gas, so you start to buy the cheaper gas. The car seems to do just fine and you wonder why you wasted money getting “the expensive stuff”. A little dent here or a scratch there gets forgotten about because it still looks good for a car with a little mileage. Maybe you skip an oil change or two, or three… saving the cost so you can buy something else. You stop getting the weekly car wash for the same reason… save a few bucks and get something else nice.

Which inevitably leads to this…

Then one day someone remarks that maybe you should start taking a little better care of your car. It used to look so nice! Only then do you realize how far you let it slip. But then you think it’s not so bad. Heck, you can fix it back up nicely anytime you really wanted to. So you put it off “for a few weeks”. Besides, you’re just going to get it messed up again anyway, right?

The day comes when the car is too far in disrepair. Too much stuff wrong with it. But you know what, it still gets you from point A to point B. So you’re OK with it.

Until one day it doesn’t get to point B anymore. Not without some help anyway.

That’s what it’s like to get Old.

Your mind is you, the driver. You don’t ever feel like “you” are getting old. It’s your body that ages, and it’s your mind that is always the last to find out. Your body is like the aging car in the preceding story. Truth is we never see ourselves as Old until we are well past being Old. You are still the same “you” that you always were, but now you just have more dings and dents. Even though You still have the same view of your surroundings that your younger self saw, your time-worn body can’t interact with it the same.

Furthermore, you look at all your friends that are the same age as yourself and think “damn, they sure have gotten old – I’m glad I don’t look that bad”. Hint: Your friends are thinking the same thing about You!

Dammit. It’s true!

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