By Debbie Olujobi
Life happens to the wicked and the kind and we will all age as the years pass by. Its a constant struggle dealing with the limitations that age hoisters upon us as we get older. When you are young you take many things for granted and assume that you can do any and everything just because you want to. Its often very humbling to find that the limitations that age brings just cant be surmounted, we all have to make peace with our our older bodies and jaded minds.
Exercise is great, it helps mobility and keeps you fit but it wont wont bring your twenties back, neither will plastic surgery! I put up an old photograph of myself on the dressing table and the sole purpose was to ginger me into being more physically active and more disciplined in my diet and its been over a year where I may have gained even more weight. A friend saw it and started laughing; she knew what I was hoping for and she gently chided me to embrace the reality I have and the body that comes with it.
I actually don’t agree, losing weight or being perfectly fit is not a physical issue its a mental one and thats where we all age the most. The age thing is all in the mind and my mind has chilled out; it’s not sending enough angst/will power to get me to punish myself in the gym to get the fitness level I desire.
The difference between the young and the old is just the direction or should I say motivation behind their drive. The young have a body they are just growing into, it’s closely tied with their sense of identity and they are motivated to keep and make it attractive. The old on the other hand tie identity with achievement and unlike the young they already know that a great bank balance trumps a great body. What the young take for granted like fitness, agility and most especially time, the old want to buy.
Most of us in middle age would be willing to pay some young person to exercise for us if we could then transfer the benefits to our ageing bodies. My twenty something self prided herself on doing a 7 kilometre run 5 days a week; exercise took up at least 2 hours of my day! I still do exercise but I struggle to do 4 kilometre walks and will cancel altogether if any excuse makes itself available. Not only do I lack the stamina of the young, I also don’t have the will. Back in the day, I would race up the stairs of a high-rise building if I couldn’t get to the gym, I would do sit-ups in confined spaces, walk instead of drive where possible but not anymore. The almost zero will power and stamina is what is most damaging in this age thing.
The age of contentment that brings acceptance is in my view the best thing about getting older. Its true that I wouldn’t mind the willpower and stamina of the younger me but I wouldn’t go back to my twenties for all the tea in china! There is a simple truth behind my lack of stamina and its a strong sense of self and an identity. Adults who are well rounded and mature are not insecure or desperate for approval or acceptance of their appearances and their choices, so running a 7 kilometre everyday regime to keep fit is ludicrous when one is not training for a competition.
While the young dine on adrenalin, adults dine on grace; we want a lot of things but we are willing to work towards it, wait for it and where not possible give up on it. The young are never willing to work towards anything, wait for anything or even gracefully give up on anything; they live on a diet of instant gratification and everything and everyone is against them if they don’t get their way. I have a sneaky suspicion that the stamina I used to have had a lot to do with pent up frustrations and aggravation that were mostly self inflicted.
The age thing has me riled up by the loss of an ability that made me feel special. In my younger days I was an exceptionally good driver for two reasons, I didn’t drink and I had what my friends called Super hero vision. A specialist detected some abnormality in my eyes as a child and he thought that could explain my ability to see and read in the dark.
Some years after I turned 40 I had been very upset that I needed glasses to read and had not been amused when ophthalmologists explained it as part of the ageing process but I could still see in the dark. I made to reply a text this past week and I honestly could see nothing; yes it was dark but that rule had never applied to me before so I was rather peeved. I have always taken that ability for granted and I feel its loss like something was stolen from me! It didn’t help that I received very little sympathy from my loved ones as they mostly thought that seeing in the dark was abnormal and normal was what I had become.
I was motivated to write this to see if I am alone in feeling like I am losing abilities to age and wondering what lies ahead should Jesus tarry? I hit 50 in a few years and I can honestly say I am happy with my lot physically; yes I could be fitter or even more limber but all in all, I would say not bad. I cant blame my absentmindedness on age as I have always been forgetful. I tend to live in my head or should I say thoughts so my attention is hardly ever focussed on any particular thing.
My publisher once shared a joke on age that has stayed with me for a decade. He said ” What we used to desperately struggle to do, we can barely muster enough energy to even think about when we get old”. Those words have a deeper meaning to me now, its like my mind sends a memo to my body on the slowest transport to get it to move, and my body grudgingly and creakingly moves in obedience.
These days its commonplace to see babies you bathed getting married, even my son is taller than I am; at times it feels like I shrunk and he became a giant! Its all good though, that diet of grace that God provides feeds my soul with contentment and it will help me accept the new reality of whatever evolution the age thing continues to unfold.