I've always believed that we shouldn't worry about getting older, as long as we're healthy. I mean what's not to like about being older and, hopefully, wiser? Sure, maybe there are a few more aches when we get up in the morning, but, in general, we're more financially secure, more likely to be in a happy relationship, and more free of the worries that held us back when we were younger (But what will my friends think? What if I fail? What if I look like a jerk?).
Would many people really want to turn back the clock to their teens or twenties? If so, they obviously didn't attend the same high school and college that I did.
Anyway, having said all that, I have to admit that I started feeling a little freaked out two summers ago when the AARP cards in my name started arriving in the mail. I turned 50 only last year, but I guess the American Association of Retired Persons likes to get a jump on things. I can respect that.
But what is it about seeing those four letters in combination with my name that gives me pause? After all: A) I am an American; A) association is good, right? Otherwise, we're just destined to be odd loners; R) I'm not retired, but boy would I love to be! However, thanks to the Lehman Brothers and Bernie Madoffs of the world, that might have to be postponed a bit; and P) I am a person.
Am I just being another one of those hypocrites who says one thing and does another? Has anyone else had this reaction to those cards?
The first couple of times the cards came, I cut them up, as if someone stumbling upon the fact that I qualified for one might compromise my identity. This year, though, I'm thinking of joining the group. With the economy the way it is, why not save a few bucks with my AARP discount, right? I certainly don't feel "old," so it shouldn't even be an issue.
I've always thought that age is largely a state of mind. I've known people in their twenties who might as well have been 90, the way they moped around, complaining about their joyless lives. And I've known people in their seventies and eighties who embraced life with the wide-eyed wonder and energy of a child.
I remember a funny line I once came across, in a newspaper story about men who raced competitively on riding lawn mowers. The line was offered by one of the participants as a sort of motto for living: "You're only young once, but you can always be immature."
I'm sure his wife was mighty proud when she picked up that newspaper! Still, he has a point.