Is growing older really just a state of mind?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 25, 2019

They say that being old is a state of mind.

Maybe, but there’s a lot more to it than that.

I’ve always gone by the philosophy that if you know at least five people who are at least 10 years older than you, no matter your age, you’re not old yet.

So by that philosophy, I’m not old yet. Nowhere near it. Never mind those poor souls who count me as one of those who are 10 years older than them, just trying to make themselves feel younger.

Oh, if it were only that simple.

What about the aches and pains? It seems that with every passing year, there are more. Just walking up the steps, and a quick, sharp pain hits the hip. Bending over to put socks on isn’t as easy as it once was. Bending over to pick something up off of the floor isn’t that easy, either. I used to think I was getting taller because every time I stooped down, it seemed that the floor was farther away. Unfortunately, the floor hasn’t moved.

Back in the day, I could work most people under the table with about four hours of sleep at night. Give me just four hours now, and don’t expect much other than a day full of yawns and forgetting what I was doing. Double those sleep hours, and my body is much happier — and my production numbers double as well.

Then there’s the hair. I’m probably not the best one to talk about this, but it gets grey as we age (I’m a late bloomer in that department). And for most men (still a late bloomer), the hair pretty much starts to disappear altogether. Then it grows elsewhere, just as in the ear and out from the nose. Jeff Foxworthy once said he pulled a nose hair and could watch his hairline recede. A joke, sure, but not that far from the truth.

Todd Snider once wrote in a song, talking about his youth, “There was a time when I thought that driving faster is what would get me far.” I lived by that philosophy. For all of my life, or since age 16 anyway, I was the “wheels” guy. If going somewhere with a friend or three, it seemed like I was always the one driving. And I liked it that way. Leave a little late, no problem, I’ll get you there on time. No GPS, no problem. I’ll get you there. I consider myself very lucky to have survived those times. Too fast. Too reckless. Nowadays, I’d rather stay at home than have to drive somewhere. Especially at night. Especially when it’s raining. Especially when there’s an interstate and lots of traffic involved. Running late? That doesn’t bother me anymore. I either leave early, or arrive late. No hurry while on the roads.

That driving philosophy works well around here, but on a vacation to Atlanta a couple of weeks ago, I had to revert to my younger years philosophy of driving. Be in a hurry. Don’t be courteous. Don’t apologize, and never feel guilty. Thankfully, we made it out of town alive. We were only nearly killed three times on the roads of Atlanta. Once, my fault. Once, an Uber driver’s fault. Once, and idiot truck driver’s fault. I’ll never complain about too much traffic around here again.

It’s been said that people become more conservative as they age. I can’t say that’s true with me. I consider myself a pro-Second Amendment, anti-abortion liberal. Think about that for a minute. Then realize that back in the day, I voted for Jesse Helms and Terry Sanford. I didn’t totally agree with either’s political stances, but thought they were honest and voted their conscience. Maybe that does age me, thinking that a politician on the national level can be honest and vote their conscience. Silly me. My now-mature brain knows better. It seems that the most successful politicians — in both parties — are not the most honest ones. Pretty much the opposite.

Yes, getting older can be a real pain.

But remember, age is only a state of mind.

And if you believe that, let me sell you a ticket to Graceland East. It’s in Turkeyfoot, and Elvis is alive and happy living there.

Mike Barnhardt is the editor of the Davie County Enterprise-Record.

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