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  • Reverend James Squire

How Old Are You?

I came across an article with the title “I just turned 60 but still feel 22” by Margaret Renki in The Atlantic. It wasn’t the content of the article as much as the title of the article that resonated with me. I am passed 60 and see back over the horizon of my life through the agony and ecstasy of all of that experience. However, I feel like Renki that I am much younger than my age. That phenomenon gets me into trouble at times as I do more than I should in certain areas of life. I am still running as fast as I can and am reminded by a friend that, “You know you are getting older when you don’t feel the muscle pain associated with running the day after you run. You feel the aches the day after the day that you exercise. But it is not just a physical thing. It is about everything that I think, reflect, or do.

Is this phenomenon repression and denial? Perhaps but I don’t think so. It’s how I am built. I know that age is highly relative as seen in the life of biblical characters such as Methuselah who lived to 969 and Noah to 950. Sarah gave birth at the age of 90 when her husband Abraham was 100. Scholars feel that those ages are subject to a different understanding of age or they could possibly represent the age of a clan. But age had to be on the biblical writers’ minds.

I have always liked Satchel Page’s question. “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” Page is living evidence of the importance of that question. He was 42 in 1948 when he began playing for a major league baseball team. He was 59 when he retired from the league. No one else has done such a thing. He is African American and many feel that he paved the way for Jackie Robinson but hasn’t gotten the kind of attention that Robinson did. We can see why he raised that question of age. He thought that he was much younger than he or others thought. Don’t forget about Tom Brady. He wants to quarterback until he is fifty. He loves the passion, excitement, shared goals of a team and proving that he is as good if not better than younger people. He could sit around and live very nicely because of the money he has earned. He has chosen not to take the easy road.

Feeling younger than your age allows your sense of purpose and making a contribution to helping others to continue. For me I really feel that a sense of purpose and fulfillment, a calling as it were, should continue to nourish you for your entire life. When people ask me if I am retired, my response is you never retire from relationships that you had in life, people who one has helped including your family members. I try to never slow down.

Stephen King answered Page’s important question by stating, “One thing that I have tried to do is to keep my imagination young.”

A good friend of mine has achieved significant leadership in education, retired, and then developed a unique mentoring program later in his life. He sent me a quotation recently regarding an exchange between Clint Eastwood and a person who asked him how he was able to begin directing another movie at the age of 88. Eastwood’s response was a classic, “I never let the old man in!"

The 17th century Welsh poet and Anglican Priest, George Herbert, responded to the question of age by writing:

“And now in age I bud again.

After so many deaths I live and write;

I much more swell the dew and rain,

And relish versing: O my only light,

It cannot be that I am he

On whom thy tempests fell all night.”

He was 39 when he died. So, the question is for all ages.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

It could have something to do with your purpose and your passion that may not be subject to age so come up with your real age that transcends time and could be one of the most important measurements in your life.

Mark Twain may have said it best: “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” At what age did you discover your why?

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