I have just sent a birthday card to a soon-to-be 54 year-old with a silly mundance and cliche’ message that read: “You’re as young as you feel.” Really? Do I feel young? Does anyone above the age of 60 really feels young, or wants to feel young? Who comes up with these cliches’? If I remember correctly it was a stupid commercial in the early 70’s for a product aimed at pensioners or at least those approaching retirment age. As if some magic sentimental potion can turn our age around.
What I feel generally has little to do with my age. I have felt certain things all my life. Certain people piss me off more than others, and certain things I would rather not do or have others do to me. For example: I do not like people tasting food out of my plate. It drives me into a frenzy. I do not care if I shared spit with them, stay off my food. I do not like sharing eating utensils even with my kids. I actually abhor any sharing of anything that belongs to me. Probably because when I was a kid we were so many children we had to share space with each other and we never seemed to have anything that belonged to “us.” Catch my drift? I hungered for solitude and a corner to call my own. Every corner of the house seemed to have a body in it. Some shrink somewhere will probably come up with some kind of a syndrome to explain my reaction. Does the way I feel about my space play a role in my aging process? Am I going to feel melower about people digging into my food as I put on the years? What exactly do feelings have to do with the aging process? Is it possible that if I talk myself into feeling sixteen I will retain a miniscule residual of physiology I had at that young age? Does that mean I can get acne again? Does that mean I would want to chew gum and stick it under the chair as I did at sixteen? How about dating seventeen year-olds? I can see me now: “No, your honor, that was my boyfriend. I know he is only seventeen, but I am feeling sixteen right now, and consequently because I am as old as I feel it does not constitute sex with a minor!” Well, shut the front door! That would be some defence for some fancy lawyer.
The continual social bombardment to feel young or younger than one’s actual years has cascaded into the ludicrous. We diet, we cream, we tuck, we pinch, we botox, and eventually when nothing else works, we pretend and recite to ourselves inane sayings like: “We are as young as we feel.” Why the pongiant and strong desire to feel young? Is it because we do not want to spend money on health care? Is it because we want to spend the rest of our lives actively doing things we had done forty years ago? Is it ego? Why do we tell others and ourselves that age does not matter? Is it nostalgia?
Age matters because it gives us the knowledge and experience we need to make sure we take care of ourselves. It has very little to do with youth. Have you spoken to the youth lately? For starters they have lost the ability to talk. They let their fingers do the talking. If they could, they would text their entire conversations and never speak again, which after listening to some of them talk, being silent would be a major improvement. Remember Thumper’s mother in the classic Bambi: “If you can’t say notin’ nice, don’t say notin’ at all.” That deer was the proverbial Doctor Phil. I can only imagine this generation of finger-tapping morons as they age and find themselves in senior homes; regressing to their long term memories and all they can remember is texting. Heads bent down they will be playing with their fingers hoping for a reply! Do I really want to be young again? Undoubtedly not. My generation had enough to deal with: the sexual revolution, Vietnam, mini skirts, and pot. We grew out of our mistakes, hopefully this generation will have enough sense to grow out of its own stupidities.
If I had to ask my 97 year-old mother if she is as young as she feels, she would look at me straight in the eye and ask if I was as stupid as the question I had just asked her. The problem is that for the past twenty years the world has turned into a huge sentimental love fest. Everyone wants to “feel.” In the movie the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher brilliantly played by Meryl Streep, is asked by her doctor how she felt. She quickly retorted that the new generation always talks about feelings but not about thinking. How about we ask how we think? That is something to think about. We all want to feel young because we want to hold on to something which we remember as being better than what we have right now. But eternal youth is in the recesses of the brain. We must think young. My mother still enjoys a mean game of Bingo, loves watching cartoons, and if anyone attempts to give her something to wear which she does not like, she quickly reminds them that she does not want to look like an old lady! That is thinking as young as we are!