Pinky Pie

The Vital Relic & Me

Posted on: May 21, 2010

I’ve been buying these baseball caps lately that are “relic-ed.”  That’s not re-liced but made to look old, like a relic.

The first relic hat I bought, which has wear spots and uses the old logo to make it appear like I’ve had it for decades, was for the University of Minnesota, from which both my kids graduated. The second was from the University of Kansas, where Maggie received her master’s degree.

And with Michael heading to Emory University, which was founded in 1836, I’m sure there’s an old baseball cap around, unless Sherman destroyed all the old hats when he marched through Atlanta during the Civil War.

What’s with this old stuff or old-looking stuff?  How phony is it? (Very.)

When my parents – who I think were then older than me  – used the word, “old,” about themselves, I always felt uncomfortable. I didn’t want to think of them as “old,” which seemed so scary to me. It meant soon falling over the other side of the hill.

As I’ve gotten older, old seems less frightening, although I do not want to calculate any percentages related to how much of my life has been spent or how much is left.

At a conference Thursday at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse called Vital Aging, I came face to face with the old – and that was without looking in the mirror.

I had a great time conducting a workshop entitled: Life Stories: The good … the bad … but mainly the hilarious. The description was “Everything that happens to you is a story. In this workshop, you’ll primarily work on the funny stories of life. Stresses can turn into humorous stories that demonstrate resilience to life’s challenges. We’ll talk, write a bit, and share (if you are willing). You might just learn why Susan was impeached in the fourth grade.”

But what I found really interesting at the conference was the definition of old. Most of us calculate it as 15 years older than whatever age we are now. Oh, those 72 year olds. They are so old.

It made me think of the expression of my youth, “You can’t trust anyone over 30.” That held true for everyone until we turned 30. Somehow we became trustworthier then.

And then there was the encouragement from speaker Tom Thibodeau to embrace “old.”   “We should savor our oldness given our experience,” he said, adding, “Old is not the contrast to youth.”

Growing old is about living, not waiting to die. And that means being active and interested in the world. And, of course, it means learning about us. It helps us understand where we came from and to find the strengths inside of us.

One other note from Thibodeau was that after 50, we turn to the first ten years of our lives. We love stories of our youth and are amused by them. And stuff that was tough at the time becomes great fun to remember and share – hence the impeachment story.

I remembered my impeachment in the fourth grade – quick summary was I was a jerk – but did not remember it until a few years after the impeachment of Bill Clinton – although at the time I thought he should have resigned for not speaking about and admitting to what is is or was. I won’t go into any more detail on that one. I will not mention cigars, either.

I’m still working (please hire me) but I do get the concept of using the remainder of my life as an “explorer” learning about the world and myself.

And speaking of the world, Thibodeau told us about a Romanian proverb that translates to something like, “If your household doesn’t have an old person, you must buy one.”

Oh, I’m so for sale …


1 Response to "The Vital Relic & Me"

I remember when my father, age 75, came out of an antique shop looking very depressed. I asked him what was wrong. His response: “I have just been in this antique shop, and the oldest thing there was me.”

I know how he felt.

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