Last week after a long bike ride, a group of us went to IHOP for lunch. After all, 60 miles of riding entitled us to some hardcore sugar! The menu had a discounted section for Seniors (55 and older). I was quite taken aback by the thought that I’m five months from being able to order off of it. I carefully avoided looking at what any of the choices were. I enjoyed my Cinn-a-Stack of pancakes without thinking any more about being a Senior.
Later last week, I got yet another letter inviting me to join AARP. They are getting craftier—the envelope included no indication who sent it. I felt a credit card in the envelope, so I opened it. It was an AARP membership card rather than a credit card. Once I realized what it was, I promptly tore it up. I have no desire to join such an organization. I was beginning to think maybe I am getting old.
Then, a couple days ago, one of the ads on Facebook was for seniorsmeet.com. “Ready for some love? Interested in another chance at romance? Meet local mature singles at SeniorsMeet.” Another one asked, “Retired and bored?” Talk about something I can’t comprehend!
Generally, Facebook ads are depressing—I need to gain muscle using a simple secret, get rid of wrinkles doing one quirky thing, and meet mature singles. I’m not sure if I’m more depressed by what that says about my age or the inadequacies of Facebook’s ad placement algorithms.
The message from all sides is that my age is something that needs fixing. I need discounts more than younger people with families. My wrinkles and gray hair need to be eliminated. Why?
I don’t think that aging was always perceived so negatively. Not that long ago age was something that was valued. Gray hair and wrinkles were signs of wisdom. There are a couple verses from Proverbs I’ve long been a fan of:
16:31 A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness.
20:29 The glory of young men is their strength; And the honor of old men is their gray hair.
You can see why I like those! In Biblical times, and indeed until fairly recently, the wisdom of the elderly was cherished and sought after. Ben Witherington III in Work: A Kingdom Perspective on Labor states:
“…there is something profoundly wrong with a society that doesn’t do what the Bible says should be done with those in their so-called golden years – that is, honor them, learn from them, and continue to allow them to do meaningful things for the Kingdom.”
Sure as I age, there will be things I will be unable to do. Maybe I’ll have to cut down the length of my bike rides. On the other hand, I know someone who rode in the MS150 well into his seventies.
One perspective that I’ve long appreciated on what old is comes from Paul Simon’s song Old from You’re the One.
Simon's lyrics near the end of the song go like this:
The human race has walked the earth for 2.7 million
And we estimate the universe at 13–14 billion
When all these numbers tumble into your imagination
Consider that the Lord was there before creation
God is old
We’re not old
God is old
He made the mold
So, what do I plan to do as I age? First, I will try and do a better job of appreciating those older than me. While some parts of their bodies and even minds may be declining, they still have much to offer. For myself, I plan to try and fight the ravages of age. But, my goal is not to be young. Instead, I will try to keep my body healthy (though gray and wrinkled) and continue to grow my mind. After all, God is old, not me!