Is Age Only a Number?

I ran this morning.  For the first time in weeks, I actually had a great run.  It wasn’t fast, but I ran six miles with no walk breaks, which is something I haven’t done since it has been crazy hot.  I had taken three days off running and focused on Zumba, weights, walking, and even played walleyball (I have bruises to prove it!).  I was supposed to meet a friend to run, but she chose to sleep in, so I was on my own.  I took off with no plan, which sometimes brings about my better runs.  With no expectations, I won’t be disappointed in a run.  The first mile was a bit tough; my legs felt tired, and it was getting hot.  As I continued, I began to get into my groove, and realized that nothing hurt – I felt pretty darned good!  I just kept adding on to my run, and was so thrilled to feel like a runner once again.  My runs had been so pathetic in recent weeks, I was beginning to question if I really am a runner.  Maybe I really wasn’t cut out for this sport, and the last three years I had been posing as a runner.  I needed today’s run to spark the confidence that had been slowly fading away.

As I ran, I thought about age.  I recently had a conversation with a y0unger friend.  She works at school, and the two of us have been running together.  She is just starting out, and I have been trying to help her build her distance (I’d like to say I am just like Jillian Michals, but we all know that just isn’t true).  She was talking with a friend closer to her age, and told her that we had been running.  Her friend began to question why she would want to hang out with “OLD PEOPLE”.  Hmph!  Granted, I could be my younger friend’s mother (she’s a year older than my daughter), and I am a grandmother, but I still don’t consider myself to be “OLD”.  I know, without a doubt, I could outrun many, many twenty- and thirty-something young people.  I could probably outwork them at the gym given the chance.  And really, I have had friends of all ages throughout my adulthood.  What difference does that number make?

My friend and I have some common goals, we go to the same church, and we just enjoy one another’s company.  Do my extra years of experience exempt me from being friends with those from the younger generation?  One of my best friends was several years older than I.  Donna Fenn was not only a wonderful friend, she was also one of the reasons I became a teacher, and I often judge how to handle a situation at school by thinking about what she would have done.  She died a few years ago from cancer, and I have missed her terribly.  The years between us never mattered.  I have another good friend who is my mother’s age.  I love spending time with her.  We both love antiques, baking, and laughter.  I always enjoy our conversations, and have learned from her wisdom.  And, I cannot address age without pointing out (again) that my husband is sixteen years older than I.  Obviously, age makes no difference to us.  We didn’t choose our spouses based upon some number; we certainly won’t choose our friends because of their ages.

Age can be more than a number.  I cannot deny the gray hair that is hidden neatly under several layers of Colorcharm, nor can I ignore the wrinkles that add much character and wisdom to my face.  Skin just sags with age no matter how much we fight it.  Even my leg skin is sagging.  That was quite unexpected and unwelcome.  I work hard to tone the muscles in my legs, but they are hidden beneath the saggy skin.  Despite the obvious signs that I am no longer basking in youth, I am in better physical shape than at any point in my life.  Really.  I feel better and am healthier.   And I would like to take on the young girl who called me old.  A race, perhaps?  I’d show her old!

Are all of your friends your age?  There is so much to be learned from those who have experienced a little more life than we have, and, likewise, we have much to share with our younger friends.  I choose my friends based upon similar values, interests, and compatibility.  Choose friends based upon age?  Never.

The “OLD” couple after running the half marathon (me) and marathon (Gary)

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