Tuesday, January 18, 2011

'When Does Old Age Begin'

Ronni Bennett, owner of the blog Time Goes By, addresses the question “When Does Old Age Begin” in her Jan. 17, 2011, post. There was much to think about in her post and the comments that followed. My thoughts turned to two birthdays that swamped me with those “You are getting old” feelings.

Birthday #26 came in the 70s at the height of a period when a popular catch phrase was “Don’t trust anybody over 30.” Obviously 26 was on the downhill slide to the ancient age of 30. I survived that birthday and found that life was great on the other side of 26 and that there was even life after 30.

Then there was #45. I was a happy birthday girl that day, cheerfully navigating U.S. 90 on my way home, I forget from where. All of a sudden I felt something weird in my mouth. On further investigation, I realized a chunk of a bottom front tooth had crumbled off. I had started falling apart, literally. Now that was really getting old!

The days following that birthday were, as usual for me back then, filled with family, church and work. They were hectic, often stressful, but not bad, and I continued on my way until a month or two before birthday #46 arrived. I started wondering: Would some other body part fall off on my birthday? Was I destined to lose a piece of something every year on my birthday from here on out?

Birthday #46 arrived. Nothing fell off. And birthdays since then have been great. Oh, there are ongoing changes that signal aging. But the 45th and 46th birthday combo opened the way for a growing change in my view of aging. I gradually found myself more and more often pausing to thank God for simple pleasures, for experiences and relationships I would not have had were I not the age I was at a particular moment, and for seeing things that I would have overlooked in the busy-ness of my younger life.

I think this stage of life is not the same as happiness. Happiness comes and goes. Circumstances of loss and pain occur that cannot be explained and can barely be endured. But is there also the possibility of growing into a contentment and joy that transcends circumstances? I believe so, with grace. This verse gives me that hope.

Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18


  1. I think of the old Bette Davis saying "Gettin' old ain't for sissies." Oh, I am fmiliar with the tooth story, mine keep having pieces come off, but not for a long time now. But I do have dreams of having my teeth all come loose or come out. They say this is a fear of old age. Well, happiness depends on circumstances, but there is inner joy that doesn't depend on circumstances, and also finally being at peace with ourselves and our bodies. Being thankful continually does bring inner peace and joy, I think.

  2. i feel the same now at age 66 as i did at 45, other than the creaky part of getting up and down, inside my head i am still in my 40's. living in florida, the majority here is over the age of 60, way over and still active. I would love to return to age 40 and hold, but since i cant i am enjoying life whie i can

  3. Speaking of teeth. I swear I felt my bottom teeth shift last night. I read an article earlier this week on how orthodonture is for life. Fat chance I am going through braces again. It does occur to me we might be toothless when we die, although these days with all the plastic surgery and upscale dental work, who knows. If you run out of money to get your teeth repaired, and face lifted then what? Perhaps the answer is acceptance.

  4. Thankfulness is always the answer, but sometimes hard to remember.