Throughout time and perhaps now more than ever, people are looking for the fountain of youth. To me sadly this is considered by most in regards to their appearance. I’m sure health is the next factor in line, but most of the products I see being advertised in the media are “ageless” beauty products. Skin care, hair care, teeth whitening, breast implants and even facial injections are all the norm now to keep us looking young forever! At the same moment we are battling a health epidemic in North America. Obesity and diet related diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease are rampant. But hey, at least we can hide that grey hair!
This is complete rubbish to me. Yes, as an aging athlete, I do feel my body slowing down and taking much longer to recover from training or injuries, but that is part of the natural process of life. Along with age though comes wisdom, patience, knowledge and experience. I’m more content and confident in life now at 42 than I ever have been. I don’t stress over the little things quite like I used to. I definitely think more “big picture” now rather than focusing on the day to day issues that can drive us crazy.
What I would truly like to convey with everyone is that mental aging is far, far worse than the physical aspects. Let me share little story to make my point clear.
At the ripe old age of 35 I began a career as a Food Service Manager for a retirement company. I managed the kitchens and front of house operations for 3 buildings. I no longer cooked meals, but controlled budgets, menus and schedules. I did, however, get to mingle with hundreds of residents during my 4 years with the company. I learned some of the most powerful life lessons during this time. The first lesson was: NEVER take a job for money or you will just end up miserable. The second was: Your state of mind dictates everything. We all have the choice, whether we believe it or not, to create our reality. That reality can be positive or negative and that will be the lens that you view everything in life through. There were two types of people living in retirement: those who were happy, full of life and still had goals, hobbies and passions; and those who were bitter, closed-minded and waiting to die.
I’m not exaggerating even a little.
The difference was like night and day where age was completely irrelevant. Some residents in their seventies moped around all day, never left the building and would just sit quietly by a window looking out like a prisoner. Only there was nothing holding them inside other than their mindset. They had given up on life by determining they were old and useless. On the other hand, I saw residents in their eighties or even nineties that would take bus trips to go shopping, prepared their own meals, went out to the movies on a Friday night and even still played golf! They were vibrant and full of life.
The choice is ours to make.
So do I have a secret? I believe I do. No one ever believes my age when I tell them. It’s no longer due to my appearance either. A few years ago maybe, by I’m beginning to look like a 40 something year old man now. I have some grey in my beard and weathered wrinkles around my eyes. I love it and it doesn’t bother me at all. In the mirror, I see only the reflection of experience and a life lived to the fullest. I never turn down an opportunity to try something new. I always have something I’m passionate about and continue to learn new things every day. Unlike many of my friends I grew up with I never stopped living my personal life like a kid. Yes we all need to maintain jobs or careers, pay the bills and for most of us, raise children too. That doesn’t mean you need to stop engaging in all those things that made you feel so alive. Staying active has allowed me also to stay healthy. The “Dad-bod” is a bullshit myth perpetuated to placate the masses of unhealthy men that has become the norm. Sure, eat cheeseburgers when you’re young, but as we age you need to change your diet to maintain health.
So my secret in a nutshell; I still ride a skateboard, I still just wear a t-shirt, jeans and skate shoes, I revel in amusement parks, I laugh like a child on rollercoasters, I keep learning new things and I search for new experiences around every corner.
I realize this may not be your secret to staying young, but I promise we each have one inside of us. The teenage you is still there and wants to come out to play. Take a little time to nurture that inner child and you’ll never fell like you’re getting older even if your face shows the wrinkles of wisdom.
The Skateboard Philosopher