How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?

That question comes up every so often, and I’ll be the first to admit there are times when I feel much older than my actual age. But there are times when I feel younger, too, so I guess it evens out.

I thought of the question recently in relation to a friend who sent me an email after reading one of my blog posts a few weeks ago. He said that over the last few years he’s tried not to think of his age as a number. He’s almost 80, by the way, which I was surprised to discover. If I’d been asked to guess, I’d have been off by ten years or so. (And knowing his quick wit, I’m sure that as soon as he reads this, I’ll get an email saying, “Oh, so you thought I was almost 90?!”)

As he put it, he can still think reasonably, and still has the energy and capability for physical activity. But the coronavirus has increased his concerns and anxiety about his age because he is constantly being reminded that he is in the “old and vulnerable” category. This makes it tough, he says, to keep his previous mindset from being overrun by the constant current message that he’s old. He also points out that this is not just in relation to the virus. But it’s certainly coronavirus news that keeps driving the point home.

I hadn’t thought about it that way before, but I have to agree. And I’m in the same boat (sitting six feet apart, of course). Since I’m well over 60, I, too, am being classified as old and vulnerable. And since I have some health issues and conditions that make me particularly vulnerable, I’m being extremely cautious, and plan to continue doing so. That doesn’t mean, however, that I have to give up the mindset that I’m healthy, fit, and strong. It means I have to recognize and fight against the forces – internal as well as external – that keep trying to tell me otherwise.

“I’m young at heart, sound of mind, healthy and strong in spirit.” That’s my new mantra, and I will repeat it as often as I need to in order to convince – or remind – myself and others that it’s true. And I’m inviting my almost-80-year-old friend to do the same.

Feel free to join us, no matter how old you are. Or how old you would be if you didn’t know how old you were.

March 27, 2020
©Betty Liedtke, 2020

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