What Does It Mean To Act Your Age
Something shifted for me over the course of one week. I went to visit my grandsons, to celebrate my daughter-in-love’s graduation from University in Human Biology, and my son’s new status as a tenured professor. As you know, when families come together, a lot of stuff is always in play. For me, the best stuff happens when there are several generations. This was an occasion for that. Having grown up in a family where we mixed generations, this always fascinates me. Individuals, like bees in nature, find their place in the structure.
My oldest grandson just shy of two years took his place among the adults and other children without problem. He is pretty self-contained with a sense of self. He and I, however, had an issue when the next morning after frolicking all day, he entered the room without speaking to me and refused. When asked to say, ” Good morning Ama,” he refused. His father attempted to nip this behavior in the bud. Reasoning is kind of hard with someone who pretty much has done what he pleases for most of his 2-year existence. I love however that he attempted to stand his ground and challenged his father. Don’t get me wrong. We think he is cognizant enough to influence even though he does not have the language to express why he doesn’t feel it necessary to say “Good Morning” (until he feels like it). But on this, his Father and Mother agree that this behavior needs to be addressed. So they are trying to help him understand that upon entering a room, you say a simple greeting. In truth, he doesn’t really have to understand why at this point. That is how I was raised but then again, times change. Right.
I left their home in California to attend the National Council on Creative Aging’s Conference in Washington, D.C. This proved to be an extension of me spending time with family. I spent two days with others talking about how we flourish throughout our lives. What is the mind space and attitude we bring to aging or as some prefer to call it, living longer. In that space where children learn new words to describe what they see and what they feel, the same is happening in the field of creative aging. Think about it: Isn’t it just like some boomers to reshape their experience. Just as I feel more alive when I am with my grandchildren and family, so too is that the case when my mind is actively engaged in solving a problem, in being of service, in expressing my voice.
Who I am is only a part of how I express that who. Yes, I am a black American woman born in Seattle, Washington. Culturally stuff has been added to that essentially based on my life experience. How I express these dynamics is my particular voice.It’s nice to have important things to discover and problems to solve throughout one’s life. Surely beyond the beauty of life itself, there is nothing more beautiful than the ability to share and create like those honey bees in nature.
There are prescriptions for what one does that are associated with aging and thus the question of how to act your age. I have had problems with this idea from an early age. I guess my grandson does too. I like doing what I like to do just like my grandson. Yet I recognize I cannot always have my way. But that doesn’t keep me from wanting it just like my grandson.
In my opinion, when you are committed to lifelong learning, you have to stay open. You have to find ways to remain supple. You have to practice spontaneity, laughter, and joy. That sometimes conflicts with a prescribed way of being. And so I say, get rid of the act your age meme. Because for me, my age changes from day to day and circumstance to circumstance depending upon what I am doing.This has little to do with my chronological age.
Do you act your age as a practice? Are you confined by this admonition? Or is it freeing? Let’s talk about this.