You’ve probably heard that old chestnut about age being just a number. It’s a saying you see on cards for ‘significant’ birthdays, a half-hearted attempt to make the recipient feel less decrepit. For all it’s bad humor, there is truth to it.
A few weeks ago, I met up with my mom for a whirlwind trip to Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, to celebrate my grandmother’s 88th birthday. She is a living example of age being just a number, appearing fearless in all that she embraces, and basically, to quote my British friends, ‘getting on with it’. Between learning Quickbooks recently (she’s managing the local store at her retirement community) to traveling to China last October, she’s not afraid to try something new. Plus, she can still handily beat both me and my mother at cards.
So it’s been with her in mind that I’ve tried to say yes more than no. This is why I agreed to swim 2.4 miles on Saturday. It’s also why I’m rocking more than a few gashes on my legs, since I’m now trying to ride more technical sections of trail on my mountain bike – not always successfully. Though I’m pretty sure I won’t be learning Quickbooks anytime soon.
The other example of agelessness (though not grace) is my nearly 12 year old dog. We’ve not hiked much with her this year, but took her out this weekend on a 9 mile hike at the north end of Desolation Wilderness near Meeks Bay. An hour and a half on a gently climbing trail got us to Lake Genevieve, the first in a series of lakes along this trail (well worth exploring). Stick chasing, swimming and prancing resulted, with Soleil acting like it was Christmas. On our hike out she proudly held her stick between her teeth, carefully guiding it between and around the rocks on the trail, and generally not acting like an ‘old’ dog.
To me this just confirms that she didn’t get the memo about dog years. And that age really is just a number, albeit one that she doesn’t understand.
As for me, I’m reminded that no matter the number of candles on the birthday cake, it’s not an excuse to avoid the new and exciting. It’s a reason to relish every day, even the less-than-exciting ones. Admittedly a hard lesson to internalize, but one I’m working on.
Day by day.