The picture below is of my Dad—a paid Actor at 73 years of age—doing his thing at Fort Steele. My Dad has always been performing in one way or the other – singing, playing music, telling jokes, and reciting historical passages or Shakespearean soliloquies – whether or not he had an audience.
My earliest memory of “my Dad the Actor” was at a local theatre in Thompson, Manitoba. I was allowed to attend the cast party and can still remember the long, ruffled dress I wore, and the heavily sprayed ringlets I sported (I was six).
My point is that getting older doesn’t have to mean giving up that which gives you joy and keeps you engaged in the world-in fact, just the opposite.
I rarely think about my age and half the time I can’t remember my actual age; however, as I head towards 55, I hope I can learn from those older (and wiser).
For those to whom I aspire to mirror as I get older, age isn’t really a variable. Let’s face it, we’ve all known “old” 40-year-olds and over 80-year-olds that seem to be 20 years younger.
I’ve noted some key characteristics for those of whom “age is just a number:”
- Vibrancy: They take care of themselves – their physical, mental and emotional health. I’m not talking about selfie worthy abs of steel (although some do indeed have this level of physical fitness), I’m talking about functional physical and mental fitness that allows them to keep up with those much younger. They are adventurous – they are interested in the world around them, they will say “yes” – not “I’m too old for (fill in the blank).” Their response to “let’s go parasailing” is likely to be “when?” They are not afraid to be joyful, to enjoy life, to boldly go forward.
- Interesting and interested: They are interesting people – they DO stuff-travel, have hobbies, enjoy adventures, volunteer, etc. They have stories to tell, stories that you get absorbed in, stories that you learn from. They are also interested – in you, your story, the community, history, and the world. This keeps them highly engaged in what is going on around them.
- Adaptable: People for whom age is not a factor, are open to change. While they hold firm to their principles, values and to their “why” – they don’t expect things to be as they were 30 or 40 years ago. They embrace change and what it can mean toward improving their lives and the lives of others.
- A “growth mindset”: What does this mean exactly? It means that they truly believe they can get smarter, can learn something new, can master something they currently know nothing about. Ageless people are always learning because they BELIEVE they can.
- A diverse social group including those much younger than themselves. These individuals know that being around people with different perspectives and backgrounds enriches their lives.
For those of you worried about remaining “relevant,” I can almost guarantee you that by tapping into the above characteristics, you will have nothing to worry about.