The ol’ gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be. That popular folk song that we sang when I was in school used to make me worry about getting older. That poor old mare could no longer kick the whiffle tree because of age. In many of my columns, I have used the five words, “…when I was a boy.” In my attempt to explain how the culture has changed, you may think that I am obsessed by my age. That is not true.
A lot of people seem to fight their age. You see t-shirts on old men that say, “Growing Older Is Mandatory, Growing Up Is Optional.” There are countless ads for women that tout age defying make-up, and fashion magazines show us the latest trends that will make us look younger and thinner. It has become a priority in our nation to either be young or to appear much younger than your true age.
However, there are definite advantages to being older. I view the world differently as my mind has matured. I know that I am not as bulletproof as I once thought I was which often leads to healthier decisions. When my sons want me to try their Ripsticks, skateboards with two wheels rather than four, I opt out. That does not mean that I have decided to crawl into a small dark space, fearful of the world, and wait for my funeral. Absolutely not. Life is for living. It is important to get out there, but it is also important to be wise in our adventures.
Fresh out of college, I wanted to be a stockbroker. I interviewed at several places before I landed a job with a brokerage firm. One of the places where I interviewed told me to find another job and come back when I had more business contacts and gray in my hair. It is true that people lend credibility to others that have more life experiences.
Our friendships grow deeper with age too. Life has a tendency to give us all similar challenges. Having a few friends that share this journey with you is important. We can share ideas about children, jobs, and marriage. We have a common history based on stories that we reflect on and laugh about. These friendships are much more valuable than the superficial friends that surrounded me in my youth.
As we get older, we fall into a certain rhythm in our lives. We don’t wonder aimlessly trying to figure out who we really are. Instead, we work to improve our authentic selves. There is a sense of peace that comes with that. You can begin to live the life you truly want after you have taken the time to learn who you really are.
It is true that there are times when I wish I were still young and bulletproof, but the reality is that I am enjoying my life. Rather than fight this new stage, I am embracing it. Maturity makes us happier and wiser. Instead of getting older, we are getting better.
Written by Bill Waller. Mr. Waller is a author and contributor local blog, Southwest Georgia Politics. He enjoys writing, traveling, and researching history. He currently resides in Albany, Georgia.