Hay’s Daze: Have a twinkle in your wrinkle

Some people I know are getting to be what some other people like to call “of a certain age.” And we all know what that means. Fossil. Crone. Codger. Bluehair. Dinosaur. Geezer. Old fogey. Coffin-dodger. Or, if you like, simply: “senior citizen”.

I seem to bump into a lot of youth-challenged folks these days (or are there just a lot of mirrors around?). And for the most part, these folks are in a bit of an existential fog, realizing that “inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened.” I know I am.

And along with those well known aphorisms like ‘youth is wasted on the young ones’ and ‘old age isn’t for sissies’, some people have come to believe the saying that ‘old age comes at a really bad time’. They might agree with Golda Meir, famously the late Prime Minister of Israel when she remarked: “Old age is like a plane flying through a storm. Once you are aboard there is nothing you can do about it.” Or can you?

If young punks (around 40) are asking you, “So how did they build the pyramids?” or “Did you take out a loan to buy your birthday candles?” or “What was life like before cars?” just smile back with some clever schmaltzy seriously saccharine retort like: “I count my age by friends, not years, and count my life by smiles not tears.” Or: “Wrinkles will only go where the smiles have been.” And if those quotes are music to your ears, you’re right – the first one is from John Lennon, the second from Jimmy Buffet.

And speaking of famous people who knew a thing or two about aging, do you feel like Phyllis Diller when she said, “I’m at that age where my back goes out more than I do” or totally identify with Mark Twain’s observation that “The older I get the more clearly I remember things that never happened.”? And if, like George Burns you are at the age where “flowers scare you” just remember Pablo Picasso’s philosophy: “we don’t grow older, we grow riper.”

But if you don’t fancy comparing yourself to a piece of fruit, how about an old piece of wood? As in: “The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles” (Ralph Waldo Emerson) which is a nice way to think about aging, unless of course he wasn’t speaking metaphorically.

But we all have to have a twinkle in our wrinkle as the years pile up behind us in a massive mound of memories, don’t we? As silent movie star Billie Burke quipped, “Age is something that doesn’t matter, unless you are a cheese.” And if you like that, good for you, because you are clearly from the Walt Disney school of thought where “growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional!”

Besides as famous advice columnist Ann Landers once said, “At age 20 we worry what others think of us; at age 40 we don’t care what they think of us; at age 60 we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.”

So if you find yourself in the years where, as “Cats” man T.S. Elliot put it: “You are always being asked to do things, yet you not quite decrepit enough to turn them down” always remember that, as perhaps painfully illustrated herein, there always a nifty saying or quote to make you grin or groan depending on your point of view.

So, either way, I hope you won’t mind me reminding you that ageing is just another word for living. And that age is simply the number of years the world has been enjoying you.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. You can send him column ideas to harleyhay1@hotmail.com