• You can make me grow older, but you can’t make me grow up

    by Carolyn Wyler

    Time flies when you’re having fun and I might add, even when you’re not. I would be lying if I said that getting older doesn’t scare the bajeeves out of me, not to mention what awaits me after I’ve reached the bottom of the hill. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of dying and going to hell or anything like that, for one because I don’t believe it is an actual physical place and two, I have already been there a few times in my life. I’m more concerned with what happens or doesn’t happen from now up to the point all is said and done and I exhale my final breath of air.

    I’m terrified and I’m not afraid to admit it of the unknown. Unless I live to be 104, I most assuredly can say I have already lived more than half of my life span. The next stage of the game will most likely be more of a physical challenge than the mental one that I have mostly been playing to this point. Thanks to genetics (I have Alzheimer’s “in the family”), I might not even be aware that there is any kind of a physical or mental game to be played. But what lies ahead I can only guess and worry about and many of those worries revolve around the notion that I will end up a, walk-farting, laugh-peeing, body sagging, joint-aching, magnifying glass-reading old lady. Wait. Omg! I’m already there!

    Achy joints, vision loss, love handles, just the beginning of the fun ride that I have begun to take and will continue on until that final drop off at the end of the road. I can’t say that I like getting older, but, if I have to go down, I’m not going down without a fight. Life can force me to grow older, but (Peter Pan, I’m with you on this one) I’m never growing up!

    How do I expect to accomplish this? There’s the obvious: trying to stay physically/mentally active, eating right, yada, yada yada. But let me just add that this whole maturity thing is a bit overrated. Who wrote the book on the proper way one should act when they are acting “one’s age?” No one asked my advice on the subject.

    Follow me to the time before the days of inhibitions, let’s say around the age of 16-48 months. Those times when if there is music playing you don’t care who is watching you, you just break out in a frenetic dance. Those times when if you didn’t like something you could fling yourself on the floor, kick your legs and scream and cry. If you found something funny you would literally roll on the floor laughing, not just abbreviate it and imply you’re doing it. The days where you could eat your cake and wear it too and grin big while your picture was taken, unashamed that your face was smeared in yellow and blue frosting and cake crumbs.

    I’m not advocating that one should have an actual tantrum, although it definitely draws attention and tends to prove a point. I tried it at work once (well in my imagination anyway) after my boss asked me to add one more thing to my already over-full plate. It was therapeutic. I do however recommend becoming more childlike. Laugh until you actually roll on the floor, dance and sing like there’s no one watching/listening, and if you have cake, eat it and wear it proudly!

    One phrase you won’t hear from me is, “I’m too old for this.” If you ever hear me say I’m too old to DO something, I hereby grant you the right to beat me over the head with the nearest stick you find until you knock the sense back into me.

    Then when I’m 80 you’ll find me (knock on wood) climbing trees, body surfing, riding a bike, snorkeling, zip lining, wearing pigtails, jumping in puddles, rocking out to the current top 40 hits, keeping up on current events, owning and operating the latest gadgets/toys and skipping in the rain. Some might view me as the old crazy lady at the end of the block, but others, who might not be so inhibited by uncomfortable sticks up their asses … er … assets, will hopefully see a Wendy who made the conscious decision to never grow up.

      • Judy N

      • February 26, 2012 at 12:58 pm
      • Reply

      Lovely, hopeful column, though never in my life have I zip lined and I’ve been bad with gadgets all my life. But the message here can be translated in many ways. It made me ask what I’m not doing that I might want to without knowing it. Thanks, Carolyn!

        • Carolyn Wyler

        • March 4, 2012 at 9:38 am
        • Reply

        Thanks Judy.

        • Anna

        • March 7, 2012 at 11:01 am
        • Reply


    • I ain’t growin’ up neither! But I’m more of a Tinkerbell than a Wendy… I have a nasty streak!

        • Carolyn Wyler

        • March 4, 2012 at 9:42 am
        • Reply

        I too have a nasty streak which seems to be coming out more as the years go by Debra, some people might call it being a bitch, I like to think of it as just being assertive and knowing what I want.

    • Great article. With that mind set you will not feel older Carolyn. I always try to do new things in a way to just prove that older age is just a number. I have gotten so much braver as I have aged and at 63 I have zip lined more than once, I have climbed the great wall with a torn meniscus when I decided to skip down some polished marble in China and I have eaten more new food from Japan and China and I am a many cultural food eater already. I have traveled by myself to so many places on tours and just exploring when I knew no one. I have even tried rock climbing and didn’t do so well when I broke my nail down to the quick trying to grab hold of a climbing wall with my grandson. But, it is not the success but the trying that matters most to me.

      • Carolyn Wyler

      • March 4, 2012 at 9:48 am
      • Reply

      Thanks Madge. Yes I agree, not the success that counts but the willingness to try. Good for you for zip lining and traveling on your own! I’ve done the zip lining, but not the traveling on my own, unless you count driving to Utah by myself ; ) . Sorry about the torn meniscus and broken nail.

      • Anna

      • March 7, 2012 at 11:00 am
      • Reply

      I liked the piece. Personally, however, I think there are activities & things for which I AM “too old” in terms of how they may seem stupid or un-stimulating now, do not feel worth the risk or trying a 2nd time, and/or they simply do not appeal to me based on my age & experience; and I think that’s okay. I find that it is alright and perhaps inevitable that we bring some knowledge to the situations we face (*sometimes* it is ‘baggage’ i.e. negative/unhealthy). One may sometimes say no and refrain from wiping one’s slate blank while still embracing the spirit of living in the moment and not being a fuddy-duddy anti-Wendy, right? Otherwise, I find the sentiment naive and decidedly less appealing.

      Couldn’t help but think of this when I reached the second-to-last paragraph of the column, which I reiterate that I found fancifully enjoyable.

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