When I was still a teenager, my dad once lamented about how quickly time passed. For him, it was just yesterday that he was my age with an entire future in his crosshairs instead of looking in the rear view mirror. Over a decade later, I don’t find myself looking back too often, but I often feel like my peers and those only a few years older (as well as younger) have already settled into a middle age mentality.
Admittedly, I feel like my joints need a little more TLC lately, but in many ways, I’m stronger and more agile than I’ve ever been. For the most part, I’ve managed to keep active since graduating college. It’s an important aspect of my lifestyle. Yet agism negative attitudes abound. It is discouraging and frustrating to be considered an outlier or young (because frankly, I’ll still be relatively active at 60, and I constantly encourage my parents to as well). It’s like some of the people around me have given up or fallen trap to an age narrative.
Now, I know it’s too easy to turn to the positive carp about how “you’re only as old as a feel.” I know that I’m privileged in terms of health and my history of physical activity. Used to be I would use myself as an example of an average person who learned to build or break habits (one of the most important skills to have according to CAPTCHA inventor Naval Ravitkant). That no longer holds water given that it’s no longer just yesterday that I began, but you see people who start and turn things around at over 50. And in some ways, those who have never been very athletic have an advantage as they haven’t suffered problems that plague kids who were pushed too hard in high school or college.
But it’s not about becoming a world class athlete or vain gym rat–it’s about freedom and celebrating our physicality as human beings. We’re capable of amazing things if only we felt empowered to try. Yeah, I probably won’t be sparring hard or be the hill sprinter I am now in 30 years. But with a little care, I probably won’t need help getting around or winded climbing a set of stairs. Nor will I regret never getting over my ego to make a fool of myself on the dance floor.