As I approach age 50, I have a greater appreciation for the quote that opens today’s blog post.
Let me preface what I am about to say by saying that by no means do I consider age 50 “old”.
One is only as old as one feels. However, considering that the lifespan of the average American, according to the Centers for Disease Control is 78.6, I have already lived 64% of the average life expectancy of the typical American:
Ergo, I have less life to look forward to, not more, at least based upon the average lifespan of an American, so I don’t exactly have the luxury of time, but that is actually a good thing.
In fact, I posit that no one truly has the luxury of time, considering that tomorrow is promised to no one, which is the crux of today’s post.
I believe that as most individuals grow older, they begin to realize the privileges of growing older. Society doesn’t always point out the privilege of age overtly, but it doesn’t have to point it out. Realizing the privilege of age is something one must figure out for themselves. Unfortunately, many of us focus on the downside of getting older and lament it rather than adjusting their outlook and approach to life, as they should to forge a happier, healthier life.
As the late, great Prince Rogers Nelson once said in a song “act your age, not your shoe size”.
That said, I present my three special privileges of getting older…
1. People and things that were once of paramount importance to you are now petty and unimportant.
As a young Ram, I was not always rational when it came to many things. While I have never really cared about what people with whom I had no respect for thought of me, I did place a great deal of importance to what the people I do care about thought of me.
The older, more mature me now realizes that what people think of me, whether they are a family member or a valued friend or not, is truly none of my business, so I should not place too much importance on my perception of what they think of me.
Actions speak louder than words and I know my own worth. If people truly care about you, they show it more than they say it. Conversely, it isn’t anyone’s business what you think of them. Actions speak louder than words there too.
Seeking validation from others is a good way to find fake friends, disillusionment, and depression.
I often see people on social media and on Internet forums seeking the validation of sometimes faceless, often nameless people. Their online reputation is more important than their own sense of self-worth. As I get older, I realize the folly of this kind of validation-seeking. Joining a digital hive mind is just as dangerous as joining a real-world hive mind, in fact, I can’t tell the difference.
That “Instagram model” is even a thing is as laughable to me as it is disturbing. As I grow older, I choose to use my social media and this blog as a means to spread positivity and as a platform to express myself, which is cathartic for me and I hope edifying for my readers.
Additionally, as I grow older, I no longer waste my time worrying about people who don’t reciprocate or appreciate it. I don’t waste time doing things for selfish, self-destructive people.
I haven’t the time, energy, or inclination to make someone else’s problems my own if they don’t have the ability to help themselves to any appreciable degree.
2. I no longer have to worry about things that my younger self used to have to worry about.
Gone are the days where I worried about the future and wasted my time with “messy people” or trying to be the AMOG (Alpha Male of the Group) or “keeping up with the Joneses” or getting into a manic or depressive state based upon whether my favorite sports team or athlete won or lost a meaningless game.
Life is so much easier without those self-imposed burdens. My older self only tries to be better than I was yesterday. My only competition is myself. I enjoy things within the context of what they are, not what I wish them to be.
The simple act of living means dealing with obstacles and setbacks. Having overcome many obstacles and setbacks over nearly five decades of living, I am a better version of myself. I’m better off today than I was in my 20s and 30s. I have earned the privilege of having life lessons to look back upon.
3. Because of special privileges 1 and 2, life is easier to navigate.
I might have arthritic joints and a few extra pounds than I did in my more youthful days, but I now know how to better take care of myself.
I now realize that my health is my wealth. You cannot put a price on being healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually.
I’m more attractive as an overall person than I was in my youth.
Because to win at the game of life, you have to first be happy with yourself. You have to be able to see what is truly important in life.
Being physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy are not the byproducts of monetary wealth or social status, but the other way around.
Growing older always liberates us from society’s metaphorical shackles at every stage.
As small children, we desire to be big so that we can be as free as our older siblings or the older kids we see in school appear to be.
As teenagers, we can’t wait to be free from the rules set by our parents, our extended family, our schools, and civil society. This is why teenagers often rebel.
As young adults, we often wish we could go back to being teenagers or small children because we quickly find out that “adulting is hard”. When we have children of our own, we also quickly realize how much more appreciative we should be to have had parents that tolerated us enough to raise us to adulthood.
Unfortunately, there are many young adults today who refuse to “adult” precisely because “adulting is hard”, but that is a different subject for another blog post.
The greatest privilege earned by growing older is that if you are wise enough to realize how liberating being an elder is, and wisdom doesn’t always come to people with age, you will realize just how blessed you are to now understand the game of life.
A life well lived is not measured by material wealth, but rather by the ability to look back on it and being able to clearly see your accomplishments. How you made someone else’s life better. How you touched people in a way that endears them to you and you to them.
That is a dividend earned by a life well lived.
-The Rational Ram