The Invisible Gift

I never thought I’d grow up young.

But, in the 21st century, that’s not unusual. I’m just one of many people   who are 60, 70, 80 or more on the outside, but sprouts of 20 on the inside. This is the era of young older people— vintage youth — a contradiction, but a truth, an ordinary miracle.

On the outside we may be a bit crinkled, but inside it’s still dewdrops and roses. That leads us vintage people  to big surprises: The faces we see in our mirrors. We ask: Who’s that in my mirror? How could that face possibly belong to me? Looks like my mom. Or dad.

What we see in a mirror, the outside us, doesn’t match our inside selves and because we don’t feel old, we imagine age has happened to others, but not to us.

“My friends look old, but I’m just in disguise.”

Me, I’m accidently old — hit and run by the passing years — and I’m thinking of making this bumpersticker for my car: MY OTHER AGE IS TWENTY. Age takes many of us by surprise. Now that’s really funny. Where did we think those birthdays were going? Backwards?

Anyhow, way back, at the threshold year of 60, I finally realized I was on the outskirts of age. There could be a huge run of longevity ahead of me and all I knew about it could be put in a nutshell. I just knew that a stretched-out future in retirement was a new thing under the sun, nothing like my grandma’s life — which was tatting, tapioca and tending to her canary until she died younger than I am now. With today’s medical rescues from conditions that used to kill people, some of us could live to be 100. And if that isn’t a demographic miracle or dumb luck pouring down on our heads, what is?

Think about it: Around 1900, people in the U.S. died at the average age of 48. But we’ve been given a reprieve from extinction. Don’t have to die. Not yet. A forty-year gift of life.

This is unprecedented in the long history of human existence. In fact, it’s an immense gift, but many are blind to it. People look at their older bodies and they don’t see the gift because their packaging is wrinkled.

The gift is invisible. They see the package, not the gift.

So here’s my advice. Take it twice a day. Say this aloud to yourself:

Age is a gift, an invisible gift. Thank you. I’m still alive.

With that perspective you will find an instant cure for wrinkles: You will no longer care about them… it’s just the package, not the gift.

Please add your experience in the Reply section below. This column is an edited version of  one I wrote for the Huffington Post. Thanks, Mel Walsh.

4 thoughts on “The Invisible Gift”

  1. So true Mel…..amazing isn’t it!!!!!! I love reading your thoughts. Your writing is so inspiring!!,

    Love you,

  2. I love the mantra and plan on using it twice a day, as you recommend. We dash around and do not stop and consider how fortunate we are to be alive and well, well mostly well. Thank you, Mel for your inspiring piece.

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