Age: You are only as old as you feel

December is a triple-threat month in our house.

Christmas, of course, is a time for celebration for its historical significance for our way of life.

Our wedding anniversary also arrives in mid-month and we celebrated 39 years two days ago on Dec. 15.

Today, Dec. 17, could be the day to remember and honor the first airplane flight by the Wright Brothers south of here in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  We do just that as we also celebrate my birthday

Today marks 71 years on this planet earth for yours truly.

Has it been that long?

Seventy-one years.  that’s 25,933 days, 622,392 hours. 37,343,520 minutes or 2,240,611,200 seconds.

Wow. Being around 2.24 billion seconds means Amazon owner Jeff Bezos — the world’s richest man — has $51 for each second that I have lived.

“Age is a case of mind over matter,” baseball legend Satchel Paige once said.  “If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”

Age has a nasty habit of sneaking up on people.  Some 54 years ago, I covered the news of this part of the Old Dominion as a reporter for The Roanoke Times and people said I was young to being doing that for a living at age 17.

At age 35, I ran the Congressional office for a member of the House of Representatives in Congress, another accomplishment for someone at the age, and a few years later took control of the nation’s largest political action committee before age 40.

Ah, the accomplishments of youth.  A few years later, however, I became the oldest man in the room — 12 years older than President Barack Obama and the “old man” to most of those I worked around.

“Negative views about aging are communicated to us early in life, through media, books and movies, and what our friends and family tell us,” says William Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, in an interview earlier this year with The Washington Post. “These attitudes are present and pervasive already in childhood, so naturally it’s hard to enact meaningful change to these attitudes — but that’s what we’re trying to do at the moment.”

Chopik surveyed more than half a million Americans in a study on whether or not aging is a state of mind and found that many people feel younger than their body’s age.

“Sixty-year-olds felt like they were 46,” he says. “Seventy-year-olds felt like they were 53. Eighty-year-olds felt like they were 65. It looks like this is pretty consistent across age groups. People know that they are aging, but they are evaluating themselves and their lives and reporting feeling about 20 percent younger than their current age.”

He adds:

Part of that might arise from not wanting to be considered an older adult. As a result, people could be perpetually pushing what is considered an older adult into the future. It could also arise from people feeling good about themselves and their bodies, and coming to the realization that, because of their negative beliefs about what it must feel like to be an older adult that “I must not be old.”

On some days, when the aches and pains of a body that I have abused for seven decades slow me down,  I feel every second of 71 years.

On other days, on my motorcycle or shooting photos of high school sports, I feel much younger.

Satchel Paige was right.

It is a state of mind.

© 2004-2022 Blue Ridge Muse

© 2021 Blue Ridge Muse