By: Wes Smith
We celebrated three birthdays this week in my family alone and it really got me to thinking about the meaning of age. Naturally, when we think of age, we think of it being numerical value. In my opinion, that’s exactly what it is, a number; nothing more, nothing less. It’s a label for a person’s life in years, but has nothing to do with their maturity, physical limitations, wisdom, or experiences. You have to get to know a person to really learn who they are and their age is just an afterthought.
The first birthday we celebrated was my niece’s eighteenth birthday; such a crucial milestone in all of our lives. She’s getting ready to graduate high school and move on to the next chapter of her life. Two years ago, she was leaving home for college and never looking back; true independence was her intention. Now, she’s not quite sure she’s ready to take that next step and keeping her options open. While fear is gripping her mind, life will not stop for her to decide what to do. As her age keeps adding up, she wishes she was a kid again so she wouldn’t have to face the inevitable choices that lay before her.
The second birthday of the week was my own. Yes, I’m getting older and so are you. While my life has a number attached to it, I don’t think it represents who I am. I must say that I’m in the best shape of my life. Through the sport of CrossFit, I’ve found my fountain of youth. I’m not the strongest or the fastest athlete in our gym, but I do have my days I can claim I’m the fittest. The joy of these days are short lived as I’m often served a piece of humble pie soon after. Getting in there and hanging with the younger ones and getting to know what drives each other makes the classes fun and worth it. There are days that my body reminds me of how old I actually am and I have no choice but to listen and scale back. However, I don’t let it keep me down and out. With my years, I’ve gained wisdom in all aspects of life. Being human, I’ve experienced highs and lows just like everyone else. While some lows have been brought on because of my own personal decisions, I’ve learned not to repeat them. As my age keeps ticking up, I try to ignore it and just take life one day at a time.
The final birthday that we celebrated was my youngest daughter’s. She turned eleven and has no thought of slowing down in life. I’m cherishing every day I get to spend with her as she is growing up too quickly. She is living life to the fullest and sees the best in everyone. Just because we are a generation apart, that doesn’t keep her from her being the teacher at times and me being the student. She sees things through innocent eyes while I often look at things with a predetermined mindset. It is then, that I’m easily reminded that we are never too old to learn something from anyone and everyone. As her age keeps touching upward, she wishes the years to speed up so she can be an adult.
With a year behind each of us, we are all at different stages in our life; one wishes she was young again, I have accepted it, and the other wishes she was older. Growing older is a fact of life and there is nothing we can do to stop our age from ticking up. Ignore what your number is and live your life the way you feel like living it. As you get older don’t dwell on the number and think you can’t do something because you’re too old. The minute you start doing that, you will start feeling your age and start going downhill. I’ve watched a person completely give up physically because they just didn’t have the drive to go on. Rather than fight and make the last years of their life better, they were limited to what they got to experience because their body accepted that doing nothing was the norm. Stay invested in your future and your family’s future and stay active. Don’t give in to the stresses of life and quit.
Yes, we all have “off” days and want do nothing, but do not let those days turn into weeks and months letting your number define you. Get involved in a community and learn something from each person that can make your life better and easier. Something you may say or do can help another and inspire them to become “younger.” Instead of celebrating each birthday with another number added to your life, celebrate it as another year of life that was better than the last. You are only as old as you feel!!!