One good thing about having a “few years on my neck” is that I’ve had the time, and the privilege I might add, to gather lots of experiences. Most of them useful, many of them beautiful, some really lovely and of course some that are sad or even truly ugly. It’s a balanced bag. But the good thing is that my memory is highly selective. It pushes the ugly things deep down and constantly brings up the good and the funny. And I am happy to collaborate. We make a good team.
I almost never think about my age, it’s just a number in my passport and driver’s licence, but today is my hubby’s birthday so I came to reflect on it this morning. It’s funny how many people seem to be focused on their age, and often not quite comfortable with where they happen to be in life. Too young for that or too old for this. Much of this (apart from some legal restrictions thought to be generally good for us) is based on some age-old stereotyping of how we should and should not be, behave or look at a certain age. And it’s always nice when some brave souls break that mold, kind of forget about their age and follow their heart’s desires. Refreshing.
Last week I met an adventure traveller of the shy age of 87. She was going places, had just completed a trip to the Mayan ruins in Guatemala and was planning more trips for later this year. She said she was now considering slowing down a little bit…maybe just go on a cruise to Alaska next year, to see the whales. She radiated inner beauty and vitality I’ve seldom seen. I noticed she laughed and smiled a lot in the course of our brief conversation. When I asked her what kept her so youthful, she said that she really didn’t have a secret. But if anything, she had always tried to keep positive. Like when someone asked her how she was doing, she would always respond “I’m doing fine”. And she always meant that, even when she actually might not feel that great at that moment. She explained to me that when she thankfully expressed that she was fine, as if the feeling fine was already there, it always became her truth. She really felt fine after a while. I found that fascinating.
I’m quite curious by nature and often browse the latest research findings in many different areas of science. One day last year, I came across a series of interesting studies on how our outlook on life influenced our health and well-being. The results were very supportive of the fact that the more positive our outlook, the better our health was, including our ability to fight some serious illnesses. But the fact that really caught my attention was a test where people were made to smile or frown while their vitals and emotions were measured and recorded. One group was asked to hold a pencil between their front teeth to mimic a smile, another group was instructed to hold a pencil between their lips to imitate a frown. The first group’s physical and emotional reactions witnessed of increased well-being, while the second group’s experience was the opposite. I thought it was quite remarkable. And it’s safe to try at home, so go ahead!
Recently, while going to buy adult beverages for a party we were having, I got a good laugh when the young associate asked to see my ID. I could have been his mother. I asked him whether they had begun to enforce an upper age limit for such purchases. We live in Florida, you see. He just smiled and said I got it all wrong, he needed to see whether or not I was 21. What a nice guy. We both had a good laugh when I said I’d forgotten my ID, but wanted to make the purchase anyway. I drove away happy, blasting my music and smiling.
So Happy Birthday to all the Leos in August. Stay young at heart and smile, please.