Enjoy Today – You Can Grow Old Later

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

It’s officially Hump Day, but for most of us in the United States it’s an early Friday. Since tomorrow is one of the biggest holidays of the year, most companies give their people a day to recuperate. Not like recuperating on New Year’s Day – that one usually involves a hangover. Recuperating the day after Thanksgiving usually involves Pepto Bismol and a lot of sitting around.

Today I add another candle to the cake. As if we’d actually put that many candles on a single cake. Even if it didn’t collapse from the weight, we’d set off every smoke detector in town. I’ve officially reached what the Social Security Administration has deemed the age of “early retirement.” That doesn’t mean I can retire. It just means I have an excuse for dreaming about it.

There was a time in my life when I thought this was old. Like, REALLY old. And, to my grandkids, I guess it is. My grandson asked me yesterday if I’ll be 91. I told him someday. Not for another 31 years. But at that age, they can’t really tell the difference. There are kids and old people. And I guess I fall into the second category.

I don’t feel old. Well, let me correct that … my body feels really old. It just feels like it has to be somebody else’s body, because the rest of me hasn’t quite caught up. Granted, there are days when my wife would argue that point. I guess I can be a bit of a grump sometimes, but the kids can too, so that’s not really a valid measure of age. Right?

That said, people tend to judge our age by how old we act. I know a lot of people much older than me who have a zest for life that I hope to someday master. I imagine they’ve had a lifetime of practice, and I’m sure there are days when their body doesn’t feel up to the task. But they don’t let that get in the way. They just keep on plugging, making the most of every single day.

And it’s hard to think of somebody like that as “old.” It’s not that we deny their age. We have eyes, and it’s obvious they’ve made a few more trips around the sun than the rest of us. But they have eyes, too, and it’s the sparkle in those eyes that defies their chronological age. It’s heartwarming, adventuresome, and even a little ornery. You wonder sometimes what they may do next.

George Burns once said you can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old. We must think a lot alike, because I’ve always said aging is inevitable, but growing old is a matter of choice. He was always somebody I admired … 100 years old, with a smile and a twinkle in his eyes that never faded for a moment. If I live to be that old, that’s exactly the kind of person I hope to be.

Our whole lives, we’ve worked to build something. Whether that was intentional or consequential, we’ve put in a lot of time getting where we are. Hopefully it’s at least close to where we wanted to be, because I don’t think anything makes us old faster than resigning ourselves to a life that’s less than we’d hoped for. That’s why so many people get old at such a young age.

The day we stop having something to look forward to, we begin giving in to the reality of time. We not only look old, but we feel old … mentally and physically. As kids, we were constantly reminded to act our age. Well, this is the time when that happens. And the only cure is to have a dream, along with some genuine sense that it’ll actually come true. Without dreams, we’re old already.

If you want to stay young, or at least young at heart, the prescription is simple – hang onto your dreams. And don’t just dream, do something about it. Every day you let slip past is a day wasted. Because the time will come when our bodies can no longer accommodate the dreams we kept putting on hold. Make the most of life now, while you still can. There’s plenty of time to be old later.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You’re Never Too Old to Dream

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

It’s been a busy week for me. Sometimes it works that way. Usually when the boss is out of town, but hey … that’s the way it goes. The bottom line is I get to come home at the end of the day knowing I did something productive. At my age, that’s a lot more important than brownie points.

I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line I hit that point where my goals shifted from advancement and recognition to just doing a good job and leaving the place better than I found it. I think we all reach that point sometime in our work and personal life. For some of us, it just happens a lot sooner than others.

I talk to a lot of people who, when you suggest building something that can provide a little better security in retirement, and maybe even let them reach that point a few years earlier than they would have, they shake their head and say, “At my age …” What follows is some variation of “I’m too old to start something new” or “I’m happy with things just the way they are.”

What that means, in so many words, is, “People my age don’t have dreams.” Well, yeah, they do. We all do. We just may not spend much time thinking about them. But the most active retiree still has things they want to do, or places they want to see. And I don’t care how much money they’ve got, they probably wish they had a little more.

We naturally gravitate toward things that bring pleasure. Advertisers know that all too well. That’s why in vacation commercials, you only see families snorkeling over the Great Barrier Reef or enjoying a candle-lit dinner in a mountain lodge. You never see them waiting in line for tickets, enduring a body search at the airport, or crammed into a coach seat for six hours.

Part of the problem is that, when we’re younger, we want all the nice things and we want them right now. Sure, saving a portion of our paycheck would get us there eventually, but the credit card company says we don’t have to wait. We just have to take an even bigger portion of our check to pay the bill long after the fun is over or the new car smells like old cheeseburgers.

I did the same thing, so I won’t lecture anybody on financial responsibility. But, having done it both ways, I have to admit there’s a lot more excitement in saving for something you want than paying for it once you’ve got it. It’s like the difference between building something and then having to repaint it – every month until there’s nothing left to repaint.

As we get older, we realize that all those days of spending on whatever we wanted may have created some fun times along the way, but it may not have been overly responsible. And that’s when it hits – responsibility. The dreaded “R” word. It makes Mom and Dad proud, but to the rest of the world it simply means you’ve grown old.

That’s when we start saying things like, “Why do I need a new car? The old one still runs.” “A bigger house would be nice, but it’s just that much more to clean.” “I’d love to go to Tahiti, but who wants to sit on a plane that long?” Sure, the excuses make sense. But at the end of the day, they’re just validation of the fact that we stopped acting on our dreams.

I think a lot of that is the wisdom of age, realizing that money really doesn’t grow on trees and whatever we spend today won’t be there tomorrow. Part of it is the reality that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we’ll retire and have to live on whatever we’ve been able to save. And part is just the fact that, as we age, a quiet evening on the porch holds a lot more value than it used to.

But part of it is that, as we get older, we give up our ability to dream. We’re no longer looking at a lifetime to enjoy whatever we begin building today. The appeal of a vacation every month yields to the lure of relaxing by the fireplace. And the excitement of new things turns to the cold, hard calculation of how much it costs and all the other things that money could be used for.

It’s one thing to become responsible, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dreams. So, what if you’ll only have a few years to enjoy what you’ve built? Doesn’t that beat not enjoying it at all? Dreams represent hope. And the longer you have hope, the longer you truly live. That alone should be worth the time you spend standing in line.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Want Me to Act Whose Age?

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

Today I’m taking what those of us at work commonly refer to as a “mental health day.” In other words, instead of going to a nice, quiet office and finishing up work that will certainly be waiting for me Monday morning, I’m spending the day with two preschoolers and their pre-teen cousin. Maybe my mental health is a little worse than I thought.

But I have to be honest, you can learn a lot by spending a few hours around young children. After a few hours you’ve pretty much learned enough for a day, but they don’t seem to wear down as fast as we do. Still, kids have got a grasp on life that adults seem to have lost, and I’m sure it’s what keeps them young. They don’t get old until they start spending too much time with us.

I wrote a piece several years ago titled, “Will You Please Stop Acting Your Age?” The premise was pretty simple. As parents, we often admonish our kids to act their age. It’s a rather ungratifying reaction to the immaturity and silliness of youth. You know, the predictable behavior that makes being young so special. Sometimes, “act your age” really means “act old, like me.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have people who have grown so old that they’ve forgotten what it was like to be young and have zero patience for anybody whose laughter disturbs their afternoon nap. Or their mid-morning nap, or any of the other naps they take all through the day. That also includes the times you wish they would take a nap, so they’d stop complaining. Good luck.

There have been times when I’ve caught myself acting older than I really am, if age is truly a factor in that. I’m not sure, because I see a lot of people nearly twice my age (I said nearly) who seem to have found a second youth that lights up their face like a full-day’s sunshine. So, who’s really acting their age and who’s just using age as an excuse?

I work with a small group of women who seemingly have an unnatural level of energy. They’re constantly off somewhere, exploring new destinations and enjoying the night life. Any time a volunteer opportunity arises, they’re the first to sign up. I doubt they ever spend a boring weekend sitting around the house, because there’s just too much to do. You know – like living.

Granted, two of them are about half my age but the other one has kids almost their age. Still, I was telling somebody yesterday that I don’t remember the last time I had that much energy and, even when I did, I didn’t put it to very good use. Once I had a place of my own to call home, that’s where I stayed. My wife would suggest outings, but I found a reason to pass on pretty much everything.

Now, all these years later, I would give anything to have the time and energy to do some of those things. I remember our last visit to Key West. We parked the car downtown every morning and spent the day on foot, visiting different museums, eating in different restaurants, taking a sunset cruise on an old clipper ship, sipping Pina Coladas by the pool … it was awesome.

I don’t know if I could keep up that pace for a day now. But you know what? I intend to find out. I don’t want to be one of those old people who sits around the hotel gazing down at the beach. I want to be out there where the action is, living every moment to its fullest. When my time on earth is done, I want the undertaker to say, “I tried everything, but I just can’t get that smile off his face.”

Age is simply a number. Granted, it’s a number that only goes so high before we have to hand over the keys and move on. But, for that very reason, it’s a number that should come with tons of memories and incredible stories, things that will make our great-grandchildren shake their head and say, “Wow!”

Acting our age may seem refined and dignified, and depending on the setting, it’s probably expected. But acting my age doesn’t mean I have to act old. It doesn’t mean I have to give up fun and laughter. And it doesn’t mean I can’t get down on the floor and sing silly songs with my little ones or take them on the tallest rollercoaster in the park. You know. When they’re old enough.

Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a matter of choice. You can enjoy life or sit around and complain about it. But remember, those little eyes are on you. If you want them to live a long, healthy, and vibrant life, show ‘em how it’s done!

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved