I was running on the treadmill early this morning, deeply enthralled with Tyler Hamilton’s book, The Secret Race. I was minding my own business when two older women, who were obviously good friends, came into the gym and headed towards the treadmills. Although I was well into my workout, I could tell these women wanted to have a good old chinwag, so I offered to move treadmills so they could be side by side. They would have nothing to do with that so I continued running and reading. The problem was I was stuck in the middle of their conversation and they talked as if I wasn’t there. It was awkward…but highly amusing.
“I’m tired already. I haven’t even warmed up and I’m ready for a nap.”
“You know, Myrtle (yes, her name was actually Myrtle!) we’re getting older and we just can’t do what we used to do. You have to deal with that.”
“I don’t like thinking about it. I hate getting older and so do you, so don’t be lecturing me about my attitude. I just want to run like her ( pointing to me) That’s what I used to be able to do.”
The grouchy lady poked me in the shoulder and asked, “How old are you?”
“Oh, well – you’ve got no where to go but down.”
The other woman gave Myrtle a very dirty look and gruffly retorted, “Myrtle, that wasn’t a very nice comment. Then she looked at me and said, “But can I ask you something? Do you struggle with getting older?”
I smiled. I have no idea why this quote came to me so quickly but I kept on running and said these profound words of Harvey Potthuff, that I memorized many years ago.
“From the day we are born (and before) we are aging.
Today we are older than we were yesterday.
Today we are younger than we are going to be tomorrow.
To live well is to age well. To age well is to live well.
What shall we do with our aging? “
I could feel their stares from the right and left of me as sweat ran down my face. There was a very awkward silence but it didn’t last long. Before I knew it, the two women continued on with their conversation about how various parts of their aging bodies were changing significantly, now that they were 70 years old. I had given up with concentrating on my book at this point and I could hear the leg press machine calling me so I graciously dismounted the treadmill and headed to the other side of the room.
The experience of aging comes to mean different things to different persons, depending on the light in which they perceive the process of aging.
The art of aging well is living each day with integrity and with the will to hallow each day.
I love this story of John Quincy Adams, the 6th president of the United States. He lived a long life and when a young friend asked him how we was, he responded with, “John Quincy Adams is very well, thank you. But the house he lives in is sadly dilapidated. It is tottering on its foundations. The walls are badly shattered and the roof is worn. The building trembles with every wind, and I think John Quincy Adams will have to move out before long. But he himself is very well, thank you.”
…an attitude worth aspiring to.
The glory of a life well-lived is the glory of each day well-lived.
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90.12