On the occasion of my seventy-fourth birthday, I decided to re-publish this post. Why? It gives me a chance for a rant about the expression ‘she or he is not bad for her age.’ And all the other expressions that put down ageing and elderhood.
A while back, I found myself saying the above cliche to my husband. I can’t even remember the context, but I regretted saying it. I dislike the phrase and all the other quasi compliments and expressions relating to age that are bandied about.
Here’s another annoying thing. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to find a joyful, friendly birthday card for anyone over 40 years? After much looking, you’ll end up having to settle for a blank card with a pretty design on the front. Daniel and I have resorted to making our own.
What does ‘not bad for your age’ mean anyway? Could it mean that you are good for your age? More likely it means that we should lower our expectations of what an aged person can do, say, look like? Is it the best we can say of a positive nature?
I looked for some wise words about ageing on the internet. Sadly, most of the quotes were somewhat slighting or even disparaging.
The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion. ~Doris Lessing
What most persons consider as virtue, after the age of 40 is simply a loss of energy. ~Voltaire
I’ve always liked what my 88 year old friend Collyn has as a ready reply for age detractors: that he is ‘not bad for any age’.
Thank goodness yoga is for all ages: the baby in utero, her mother and her grandmother, as well as kids in school and older kids in grad school. Sportsmen, mechanics, and musicians do yoga along with retirees and renunciates.
At every age and stage, we know yoga to be a stretchy system that bends to your needs. Not only that, it helps foster well-being, sweetens your nature and confers long life. Perhaps it will give enough detachment so that as you advance in age, you will be merely amused by any belittlers.