Age is in the Mind of the Beholder

Published online: Oct 27, 2021 Articles, East Idaho Health Gregg Losinski
Viewed 1708 time(s)

And you know that you're over the hill

When your mind makes a promise that your body can't fill

Doin' the old folk's boogie

And boogie we will

 'Cause to us the thought's as good as a thrill.

                                                           Little Feat / 1977

When I was in college, my friends and I enjoyed listening to a band named “Little Feat.” They never really made it big, but their lyrics were entertaining, and in some cases even prophetic. 

One tune that I found amusing in my youth comes closer to the truth with each orbit of the sun that I complete. The chorus of the song Old Folk’s Boogie was, “You know that you are over the hill when your mind makes a promise that your body can’t fill!”

I remember as a child thinking that at the turn of the next century, I would turn 40 and that WOW, that is old! I could barely fathom the jump from then being 40 to being as old as my grandparents who were then in their 60s. I lacked the frame of reference needed to comprehend what being old was really all about. I understood being a kid and then growing up. I knew career, marriage and kids were supposed to be further down the line. 

After that, life got fuzzy, The older people I knew and loved were nice. They just moved a little slower and smelled a little funny. After that, I knew you died.

Fortunately, life has changed a lot since I was young. Fifty is the new 30. Using this new math, my 60s are the new forties! I can happily lie to myself by saying I’m not that far over the hill! 

When I look at old black and white pictures of my hard-working Polish American ancestors who were physically spent by the age I am now, I truly realize how far we have come. Age used to be all about a number. The whole Social Security system was built on the fact that people didn’t live all that long after hitting 65. 

Modern medicine and better living through chemistry came along and WHAM, living into your 80s became the norm.  So, where “old” people used to sit around and play gin rummy and shuffleboard, people of the same age today now routinely mountain bike and downhill ski. 

Part of it is that we are in better physical condition than our ancestors. Life is overall less brutal and we have more resources available to take care of ourselves. 

Certainly, some folks still live incredibly hard lives and are beat up by the time they are able to retire. Others of us have been fortunate to have been able to retire while in fairly good physical shape. The trick is making sure that your mind is in the right place to enjoy what your body wants to do.

Even though I am now in far better shape than my great grandfather was at the same age, I know that there are lots of things I still best not try. 

My days of hoping to rip off a 5.12 at the Fins are long gone, but trying to push it at the safe confines of the Edge Climbing Gym is totally possible. I will never ski Corbet’s Couloir in Jackson, but there are countless runs in the Tetons that I still can do. The whole point is knowing your limits and not being stupid.

You are only over the hill when your mind makes a promise that your body can’t fill. Until then, age is just a number and Social Security can wait! 

Click here to read the October issue of Idaho Falls Magazine.


Send to your friends!

  • Like what you read?

    Get Idaho Falls Magazine straight to your door!

  • Subscribe Today!

    Sign Up