Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How do you define old?

Yesterday I was at a dance practice held at a multi-generational senior center, which means folks of all ages participate in activities. I don't know if I've mentioned it, but I let the red color of my hair grow out and I am now quite naturally white-haired. I'm also 66, which in all the health care advisories, is considered elderly.

There I was, dancing my little heart out when another white-haired lady walked by using a walker. My immediate thought was, "good for her, she's old, but here she is, doing whatever." But then I realized that others are probably labeling me old simply because my hair is white. Yet I still walk vigorously, dance, have all my mental faculties (most of the time, LOL), can still preform all the activities of daily living with no problem.

So I began to think, what is it really, that makes someone old? It can't be the number of your age, because there is an 85-year-old women in my Sophisticated Ladies Dance troupe that is still dancing beautifully, and seems to have no other problems mentally or physically.

I think maybe I'll feel old when I can no longer do the things I love to do. But knowing me I'll find other things I can do instead. Like when I broke my ankle and couldn't dance for over a year -- that's when I started taking singing lessons. So maybe I'll just eliminate the word "old" from my vocabulary. When wine ages, it gets better, right? Why can't our society feel the same way about people who have lived longer than others?

How do you define old?



D.G. Hudson said...

I define old as a state of mind. If a person has been aged properly, and the mind is still active, all else follows. I think wisdom can come with age if one takes the time to acquire it. That's what I look forward to.

Our society needs adjustment in how it views the different stages of life maturation. Each stage should be celebrated for different attributes, but that requires a thinking mind. And, even in the exploration days of man, when they were discovering new lands, they were still looking for a fountain of youth. . .

Karen Walker said...

Yes, D.G., I think that's part of it, too - a state of mind. It's mind-boggling how our society has always seemed to be obsessed with youth. Is it a fear of death?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Old is when you start coughing dust.
Did you see the woman on America's Got Talent who was part of a dancing team. Her partner was young, but she was in her mid-90's. Yes - 90's!

Karen Walker said...

Yes, Alex,I forgot about that.

Anonymous said...

I find that I'm now embracing the label of "old." Mostly because it's an easy way to feel superior to those youngsters who may look better than me, but certainly aren't smarter than me.

Arlee Bird said...

I guess it depends a lot on attitude. I don't feel all that old mentally but sometimes my body sure feels old. Then I see someone else barely getting around and then I feel kind of young. It's a matter of perspective I guess.

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Mason Canyon said...

I'll have to agree with Arlee and say age depends a lot on attitude. I think you can make yourself old if you dwell on it. A number shouldn't tell us how to enjoy life. I recently saw a clip on the news about a group of lady basketball players that will all in their 80s and above. We just have to keep thinking young and especially acting young.

Murees Dupé said...

Personally, old has to do with attitude for me. I know few twenty year old's that don't do anything and life just passes them by, because they deem certain things inappropriate. Now, to me, that is being old. Old and boring is kind of the same thing to me. I love when people, who are more mature in age, still enjoy their lives and do things that make them happy. I hope I will be like that when I get a bit older. Just sitting there and waiting for death to claim you, is not my idea of fun. 66 is not old! You are amazing.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Old is in the attitude. It's in the mind, and when a mind quits learning and growing, it's old.

My husband's parents are always complaining about old drivers. Which is funny as they are both in their late 70's.

Sharon Lippincott said...

I'm with Arlee about embracing the label OLD. Not so long ago I rode a jam-packed bus in Pittsburgh's university district. A young male Asian student saw me hanging onto the top railing and jumped to his feet. "Please, sit here." My first impulse was to smile and shake my head as I said, "Thank you, but I'm fine." Then I realized how disrespectful of HIM that would be and stopped with Thank you." He had been raised to respect and honor white hair. Not so with his non-Asian peers.

I no longer feel young. Youth in my case was a time of awkward cluelessness and bumbling. I have NO desire to return to that state. I hope I've acquired a bit of wisdom and savvy in seven decades. I do feel enthusiastic, reasonably energetic, creative and at times even visionary. I revel in the fact that I know how to make things happen now. I feel able and appreciated. Whether he knows it or not, I feel I've earned that student's respect.

On some days when my back is complaining or I'm out of breath, maybe I didn't sleep well so I'm out of sorts and my face sags in the mirror, and I think how fast the clock ticks these days, I feel OLD. The rest of the time, I look in the mirror and see a vibrant smile and I feel VITAL. But not young. Heavens no. NOT young!

Karen Walker said...

Charly, I like that a lot - embracing it
Arlee, yup, it's all in the attitude
Yes, Mason, I agree. I'm going to stop celebrating the number on my birthday - it's just a number
Murees, when I was growing up 66 was quite old - but now they say it's the new 40. Thanks.
Diane, yes, I had a friend who never felt old right up until the day she died. And she really lived her life fully. She's my role model.
Sharon, wise wise words, indeed

Misha Gericke said...

I think old is a state of mind. :-)

Manzanita said...

I think you said it right. My son and I just had that same conversation 2 days ago. My theory was..... you feel and act old when you are ill and don't feel good. He kind of argued that one should keep doing the active things and then one won't feel old. But I know when I was ill with Candida and not feeling well.... tired all the time.....I felt old and I certainly didn't feel like forcing myself to lead an active life. But once I was well and my energy returned, I was jumping all over the place and hiking up the mountain again. And now I don't feel old either. It's prob different for everyone, but when I'm sick, I feel old....yes I do.

My friend of 57 years has had all white hair for years and it's a beautiful platinum color. She gets compliments on her hair always and I bet you do too.

Karen Walker said...

Oh, this is so true, Manzanita - when we're sick, it's hard to feel youthful. Thanks about the hair. I'm kinda getting used to it.

Anonymous said...

I've always defined it as a state of mind. Like, one of my grandmother's is well into her 80s and she can still DO stuff. While my other grandmother just a few years younger is basically confined to her wheelchair and does NOTHING. The latter is the old one, I'd think.
Whenever my hair starts to gray, I'm very sure I'm just going to let it go! Props to you, I bet it looks awesome :)