PEOPLE always say age is just a number. And to be honest, I subscribe to that philosophy too.
What do you mean I’m too old for rock concerts? Watch me rock it out at the stadium for five hours in a crowd of thousands! Except I had to sleep for 10 hours after that. How dare you say I can’t chill with friends in the city until the wee hours of the morning? Alright, but my bedtime is actually 11pm or else I’ll get a headache the next day.
Sure, age is just a number. But in some ways, it’s not.
There is a young spirit inside all of us no matter who we are, sometimes reserved, sometimes fully exhibited, but as long as we can maintain that youthful exuberance we will always feel mentally young. Unfortunately, our physical self may not always be in sync with our state of mind. I remember watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians (but I don’t anymore, after realising that I spent too many hours of my life engulfed in someone else’s plastic surgery procedures) and 60-year-old Kris Jenner said, “I feel so young on the inside, but sometimes I’m frustrated that my body is betraying me”.
Similarly, I had a conversation with my Dad once about the earlier days when we were little, my parents were in their thirties and we would backpack and travel everywhere. These days my Dad wishes he could do all that extreme travelling again, but he would need a seriously long nap after that. And also an appointment with a chiropractor.
Once, I watched a film called Amour. If you have the time, I highly recommend that you see it. In short it is a beautiful movie depicting an old married couple in their seventies/eighties, and one of them has Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s is a condition where your brain begins shrinking, mostly associated with the effects of ageing, and you begin to lose memories, the track of time and eventually even your body systems are affected. It’s a slow and agonising process and this film showed how the illness affects a person and the lives of others.
After watching it, I was spooked. It made me think about the fact that one day, eventually, I would lose my health and my youth, and things will never be the same again physically. I will no longer be sinewy, falling off a chair today is no big deal as opposed to falling off a chair and easily breaking my pelvis when I am 60. It scares me, the idea that someday, even if my mind is still young, my body would chip away with age.
I turned 30 last year. How did I get there so quickly? It made me realise that time is fleeting, and soon I’ll be asking this same question again at 40, 50 or 60, or for however long my “punch card” so to speak is allowed to function.
And as much as I want to live in denial, I have to admit that I can never sustain the same lifestyle I had when I was 22. At that age, I really could go out and have fun all day, continue all night, eat all sorts of junk, not sleep for two days in a row and still show up for classes in college. If I do all that today, I’m guessing that I’ll need medical leave for a three-day bed rest.
Accept The Change
I was talking to a few girlfriends the other day, and we concluded that time has a cost. Of course, with the number of years we live, our lives only get richer with meaning, wisdom and experiences. But at the same time, ageing also takes a toll on our health and physical capabilities.
We take all sorts of measures to ensure that we ”age gracefully”, by eating right, exercising and looking after ourselves well. And essentially, isn’t that the whole reason why we look after our health? It’s to ensure that we are able to maximise our “shelf-life”, so to speak.
But the harsh reality is that although we are able to improve our physical longevity, there is no stopping ageing altogether. No one can escape getting older. I look at myself in the mirror and I know that as much as I am doing all I can to stay at my physical best, someday my energy level is not going to be as sprightly and my kneecaps will probably have the endurance of an un-oiled Tin man (Wizard of Oz reference here). Though I really hope it will be decades before those things ever happen.
So perhaps a better way to manage this expectation is to enjoy and cherish health while we still have it, no matter what our age. And maybe, someday, when it is eventually taken away from us, we can have peace of mind over the fact that we truly appreciated that gift and never took it for granted.
A GEOSCIENTIST BY DAY AND ASPIRING WRITER BY NIGHT, AMAL GHAZALI
PONDERS ON EVERYTHING, FROM PERPLEXING, MODERN-DAY RELATIONSHIP DILEMMAS TO THE FASCINATING WORLD OF WOMEN’S HEALTH AND WELLBEING. ALL DONE OF COURSE , WHILE HAVING A GOOD LAUGH. READ MORE OF HER STORIES AT BOOTSOVERBOOKS.COM