In the mid 1960’s, hundreds of Picasso’s paintings were exhibited in Cannes, France. These works ranged from the first pieces he painted as an adolescent to the latest of the master, who was then 85 years old. It’s said that as Picasso himself roamed the gallery, a woman stopped him and said, “I don’t understand. Over there, the beginning pictures - so mature, serious and solemn – then the later ones, so different, so irrepressible. It almost seems as though the dates should be reversed. How do you explain it?” “Easily,” replied Picasso, eyes sparkling. “It takes a long time to become young.”
The minute I read this quote, my mind immediately turned to my co-worker Rose Ann, who in her early 70’s approaches everything in life with such gusto and excitement that it’s contagious. I really hope I have that same great attitude about life when I’m her age, truly seeing everything as a blessing.
A few years ago, The New York Times published an article titled “Seventy is the new 57.” According to a study of aging from the University of Michigan, on average older people feel about 13 years younger than they really are. If we are particularly healthy and active, the gap between subjective age and actual age is even wider. Evidently, how we feel about our age defines how we act; if we define ourselves as someone who is old, we will most likely act as if we are old. The study also suggests that we are often aged by the culture we live in since cultural stereotypes are often out of date (or at odds with) how we perceive ourselves, especially when it comes to how we should look at a certain age or when we should retire.
You know that bucket list you’ve heard so much about? It’s never too late to start checking things off, like Rose Ann is doing, and we should never reach a point when we are not adding new items to our list. Our bucket list may morph into something else slightly as we age, but the basic concept is still there. For instance, I may not go backpacking through Europe like I planned to do the summer I turned 50, but I can travel to a few select European cities and stay in comfy hotels. I may not learn to play guitar; however, I might take some voice lessons. I probably won’t go back to school and finish my degree, but I may take a creative writing class or enjoy some art lessons.
At the end of her life, my mom said that she had always wanted to go to Branson, Missouri. By the time she mentioned that to me, she was too sick to travel and it makes me a little bit sad that she never got to check such a simple thing off her bucket list. Writing this, it’s just occurred to me that I should plan a trip there one day in her honor. Remember that “Today is the oldest you have ever been and the youngest you will ever be again.” Take advantage of that. Don’t act your age! Where/what is your Branson, Missouri?