Lunch with my girlfriends is never dull. Whichever group gathers for a bowl of pho or a sashimi lunch (salad and miso soup included), there are always things – big, thought provoking things – to talk about. There are little things, too, but it’s those big things that we all take home with us and think more about, later on.
Returning to Long Beach from Bellevue for the first time since we relocated, there was a month’s worth of group talk to catch up on. We talked about new grandbabies on the way, about our kids, of course, about our husbands and about health issues and finances and other topics that friends who have known each other for 20+ years talk about – which is, pretty much, anything.
At some point, the topic of aging came up – as it often – or even always – does these days. Some of us are 50-something, some of us are 60-something, but all of us have age-related issues, whether it has to do with our bodies morphing into shapes and sizes we don’t recognize, or our lives changing as we make decisions about retirement, career changes or simply learning to be not-so-young anymore. We are in it together, though, so that makes it all a bit easier to face. We may be aging, but our friendships aren’t.
How to stop aging, we wondered? How to keep from being old and cranky, unhappy or bitter or simply done with…everything? How to be 70 or 80 or even 90 something and still maintain a life that is worth waking up for each day? As friends and family are taken from our lives, as our world grows smaller, how do we… DO it?
Of course our health is paramount to our sense of well-being, we all agreed. But it’s bigger than just our health. We need to be comfortable with the incremental changes in how our bodies work, and look, and feel. If we are very lucky, our minds will stay in tact even as our bodies begin to betray us. That’s the first step – doing what we can to stay healthy, fit and mobile, but understanding that there may be more limitations on our stamina and energy – and being ok with that. Easier said than done, for sure – but it’s better than being furious at the universe for our achy backs and need for progressive lenses.
Ok then, if we learn to accept our wrinkles and bad knees and droopy earlobes, what about the rest of it? What do we need to do to stay youthful, even if we are far from young – and growing closer and closer to old?
**The reality is that, to a young person – anyone under the age of 20, and possibly even 30 – we are already old. But that’s another story.**
I don’t believe it’s the music we listen to, or the words we use, or the age of our friends or how much sex we’re having that determines how youthful we are. I don’t think it’s the clothes we wear, or the books we read, or the restaurants we go to or the trips we take. It’s not any of those things, in my opinion.
What will keep us youthful and help us look forward to each day despite the losses we suffer or the pain we feel or the narrowing of our lives or the limits of our bodies is curiosity.
Staying curious about the world, staying open-minded and interested, trying not to pass judgment on things we don’t understand or disapprove of people whose lives are different from ours are all good ways to continue to learn and grow and evolve, whatever age we are. With lightning speed, the world changes and changes and changes. It’s not possible to keep up with everything – but paying attention, close attention, to a few things that really mean something to us will keep us engaged and aware. Staying engaged and aware and open-minded and interested are the very best things you can do to stay youthful.
Having friends to go to lunch with helps a lot, too.