The question “How do you spell “old?” is sort of facetious… we probably all spell it o-l-d or perhaps a-u-l-d, I have a few friends who spell it v-i-e-i-l-l-e, and of course my son-in-law spells it v-i-e-j-a.
The concept of “old” really hit home recently when I was reading an article about Coronavirus and they wrote of people in their 60s as if they were OLD.
I’m in my 60s and I’ve never thought of myself as OLD. I still classify myself as mid-age because I am somewhere in the middle of my life span. Given the fact that I feel strong and healthy and I have no idea when my termination date will be, I think I’m justified.
These days I think it is increasingly impossible, or implausible, to define someone as old merely because of their age.
I have friends in their late 80s, even into their 90s who are busy, active, fun, engaged, strong… and despite the number of years they have been collecting their “Old Age” pensions, they are not old. Some of them will die of “old age” and still not be old at heart!
On the other hand, I know “young” people who are grumpy, stuck in their ways, with closed minds – they seem old to me despite their lack of wrinkles. I remember meeting a young woman of 19 several years ago who was aghast at the thought of her getting experiences outside the world she lived in, who recoiled at the suggestion of broader horizons. That seems old at heart to me too.
Like many incidents of Political Incorrectness, I realize the ease of verbalizing age-ist remarks might be habit, not intent, but… like many of us work hard at being more sensitive to others who are not like us, I think I need to be more insistent that age-insensitive comments be thought through.
Back to Coronavirus, I’m with the 84-year-old woman on the news this morning who said ”I’m strong, I’m healthy, I’m going to listen to the medical professionals who tell me to wash my hands and not touch my face – I’ve made it this far and I’m hoping I’ll make it through this as well.” Hard to call that attitude old no matter what we think 84 means.
What’s your experience with age, numbers, insensitive comments? Do you think “old” has a numerical definition?
What is your definition of “old”?