The Secrets of Old Age

Mar 9, 2016 | 2 comments

More Words to Live By

More Words to Live By

Now that I have reached a somewhat venerable age, people have begun to ask me what my secret is. I flatter myself into assuming that they mean I seem oh-so-much-younger than the numbers suggest – “Younger than Springtime” Gordon used to say – and, when pressed, I’ve been giving answers. Of sorts.

The other day Wayne Downing asked and I rather flippantly responded that I long ago decided to “just say yes.” That’s not altogether true, of course. The ‘deciding’ part is recent. I’ve been trying for years to learn those other words to live by: “Just say no.” What my recent decision has been is to stop fighting my natural inclination to try to do it all. It’s far easier and much more me to say “yes” to almost everything that comes along (much to Nyel’s distress, I often think.)

Along those lines, for March my lovely ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ mini-calendar says, “A person has to be busy to be alive.” It doesn’t say “and vice versa” but I’m sure it’s implied. Those of us living on the Peninsula have no trouble with busy. In fact, the opposite is true. I try to limit myself by following a self-imposed rule to accomplish three things every day – two of the maintenance sort (like do the laundry or weed a flower bed) and one brand new thing. Of course, if an unexpected opportunity comes along, I don’t limit myself to three! I just say ‘yes.’

My Role Model!

My Role Model!  Mom (at 92) with Bear.

I do believe that my mother is my Old Age Role Model. She was trying new things well into her nineties. Nyel and I came back from a trip once to see her picture in the paper under the headline “Motorcycle Grandmamas burn up the Peninsula Blacktop.” And there was mom in a motorcycle helmet hanging on to Bear and laughing in delight! What a gal!

For me, the ‘new’ thing I try to accomplish each day usually has to do with writing. (I did my motorcycle thing in my 20s and 30s.) And, no, my daily blog doesn’t count. There are some activities – like breathing and brushing teeth and a daily blog – that don’t really fall under the ‘maintenance’ or ‘new’ categories. For my friend Te, it’s walking 12,000 steps a day – it’s just what she does no matter what. As I see it, those are the ‘being alive’ trappings that don’t necessarily move things along. So just do it, shut up about it.

I think the calendar says most of it – be busy. As in keep moving forward, kind of like sharks. (Oh, wait! – That’s coming up for July. “Just keep swimming” it says.) But, I think those words to live by should include ‘meaningful’ and ‘fun,’ too. And, no, eating an extra piece of left-over birthday cake doesn’t count.


  1. Stephanie Frieze

    Sydney, I have said it before and will say it again. You are my inspiration!

  2. Diane

    Loved this blog post.


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