June 23, 2011

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?

I am sitting here eating Fun Dip at 11am and I can’t help thinking of quote I heard once,

“Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.”

I’m not sure who said, but It’s been the tag line to my life.  (By the way, when was the last time you ate Fun Dip? It’s not fun at all. It’s a sugary mess but it’s the quickest way I can get my sugar intake, save snorting pixie stix. Don’t worry, this isn’t another post about busting those sugar blues. I have no interest in doing that. I whole heartedly embrace the highs and lows of eating crappy food.) But alas, I digress.

So here’s a question for you: How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were? For me the answer is easy. Without a shadow of a doubt, I’d be 12 years old (minus the braces and bad hair).

The way I see it, I’m not 35. I am 12 years old with 23 years of experience; I am a 12 year old stuck in a 35 year old’s life.

We’ve all seen that movie, in all of its incarnations,  where the kid and the parent swap places after wishing for the others life. Well, it’s kind of like that, but not really.  See, my body keeps aging and my life’s circumstances are on par with other 35 year olds I know, but I have managed to keep the spirit and spunk of a 12 year old. It’s not a scientific miracle— but I bet I am this way because of one of two possible reasons.

First, I suspect it could be my stunted (dare I say) emotional growth. Sure I can blame it on my family circumstances–the youngest of seven kids with a gap of 9 years between me and the next sibling. I was coddled and babied and spoiled and for a long time, I milked it. But blaming the family only gets you so far, even if it is so much easier to do!

Second, it could be yoga. I have often joked with my students that I am really 108 years old and yoga is responsible for keeping me young.  But as a girl who eats Fun Dip for breakfast, I’m referring more to the joy yoga brings to my life as a teacher and student than as a potential fountain of youth.

So here I am, 23 (gasp!) years beyond my 12th birthday and I’m living a grown up life like a 12 year old. This has it’s advantages, depending how you look at it.  I like to think the 35 year old version of myself has made out like a bandit. With all the responsibilities that accompany adulthood, it helps to have a youthful spirit and a positive outlook (Thanks yoga!). No matter what sort of crap I’ve gone through, I refuse to be phased or jaded. I plod forward with that same doe-eyed optimism of yore.

Then there’s the flip side. What 12 year old has the emotional capacity to deal with all the baggage that accompanies being 35? (Thanks family for my stunted emotional growth!!) I’ve been married and divorced. I’ve gone to my father’s funeral and seen my mother in the hospital. I’ve gone from one career to another. I have travelled the world and moved back to my childhood town. I don’t know many 12 year olds that could handle all that.

So what’s my point?  Perhaps, older doesn’t always mean wiser and youth doesn’t always imply inexperience. Maybe I am exactly where I need to be, eating Fun Dip on a Wednesday morning.

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