How old are you? Officially, baby boomers today range in age from 49 to 67. But according to Stew Carter, an AviationTech with the Canadian Armed Forces for more than three decades, that has nothing to do with the question, How old are you? Or at least, it shouldn’t.
As a person who is “older” (okay, I have trouble with that word), I have learned a few things about aging … mainly, I don’t understand what everyone is talking about. I don’t know how old I am unless I calculate it. When asked, all I know is that I am as old as I am feeling that day – be it 26 or 42 or maybe 31. And that is what I tell people.
The year before last, for example, I went skydiving after taking my first jump course. No one else even looked twice at me, not even teenagers. I missed last year only because I took a new job in Ontario, Canada, and packed up and moved from Nova Scotia, but I am going to jump again. Definitely! I still like change. New jobs, new friends, new challenges.
People ask me about retiring; I cannot imagine doing that. I have too much fun at work, no matter what the work is. My idea of a challenge is not seeing how few times I can hit a dimpled white ball for 18 holes. The only dimples I want to see should be resting on the pillow in bed next to me and making me feel … and act … 25.
When I hear people talk about ageism, I really don’t understand, because I don’t see myself as aging. I think much of the ageism problem is from people who act their calendar age. Which always makes them old. Then they complain because people say they are old. This is the conventional circular argument: if you don’t want to be old, then stop being old. Age is about how you feel inside, not a number on the wall. And if you go to work only to whine about how soon you will be eligible to retire, be gone already, because I’m tired of hearing it.
What’s more, if you are working at a job that only makes you want to retire, you are wasting life. Do something that interests you. Life is a joy; every day is an adventure and if you choose not to be the adventurer, then you are old and you should be in that rocking chair. Don’t run south every winter – stay and enjoy the brisk walks and sparkling mornings. Another peeve: people who travel south all the time and never east or west. People from the Caribbean and southern United States must think all northerners — from the U.S. or Canada — are born at fifty.
I don’t have time to run away from my life. I am having too much fun. And the point is that no one calls me old. They don’t treat me as old and they don’t give up their place in line for me.
I live every day with as much enthusiasm as I can. The calendar is for when I next need to go to the dentist, not how long I have suffered through life. I’m done with tolerating that attitude and have been for decades. Look to the future and if someone calls you old, ask yourself “How old am I?” If the question makes you check the calendar, you’re too old.
This is step one to making ageism stop. As long as you allow yourself to be aged, then the prejudice of ageism will continue to occur.
By the way, the calendar lies and says that I will be 62 this year.
©2013 Stew Carter