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Holten: There is no such thing as age

Let me tell you a little secret. Nobody ever gets old.Yes it's true that people age, at least on the outside. But on the inside, they never get old, simply because that same child that was in there from the beginning will always be there, inside ...

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Let me tell you a little secret. Nobody ever gets old.
Yes it’s true that people age, at least on the outside. But on the inside, they never get old, simply because that same child that was in there from the beginning will always be there, inside of you. Tell me it’s not true.
Why do you think athletes like Kobe Bryant and even Michael Jordan played professional sports for a little too long? Because somewhere deep inside them, inside all of us, the mind is working in a different department than the body and the mind doesn’t always get the same memos as the body; the ones that have to do with aging, limitations and things like that, which is often a good thing.
Of course, there are certain advantages to getting old. For example, your lifelong investment in health insurance might finally have an opportunity to pay off. If you’ve never smoked, you can start doing so without worrying about it having enough time to hurt you. And you can tell your friends all of your secrets and see how they react, because they won’t remember them anyway.
Your remaining supply of brain cells will finally be down to a manageable level, things you buy won’t wear out, your joints will be more accurate at predicting weather than the National Weather Service and, best of all, there’s won’t be anything left to learn the hard way.
You can sleep anytime and anywhere you want, drive slow and not be honked at or shot, forget to zip up and nobody really cares, treat every day like it’s a holiday, look forward to being treated politely even if you’re acting ornery, take out your hearing aid if you don’t like what someone is saying, and remember all the good stuff and forget the bad.
So, you see, there are real advantages to getting old.
Of course there are a couple of disadvantages too, especially when it comes to living forever. One of them is that your friends and family won’t necessarily be there with you.
When I was a little kid growing up in northwestern North Dakota, a stone’s throw from the Montana and Canadian borders, there was an old man named Pete who lived next door. He often sat in a chair outside in his yard, like the Abraham Lincoln statue at the Lincoln Memorial, and day after day he’d watch us play.
He was hunched over when he walked, wore bib overalls or flannel shirts and suspenders just like a lot of old farmers do, had a very thick mustache hanging below his nose and thick eyebrows above it, always wore a cap, and often donned a jacket, even when we thought it was much too hot to do so.
Occasionally, he’d chuckle and other times he nap.
What I didn’t know at the time was that he was also playing, right along with us, or at least the kid that was still inside of him was, in his mind, without having to expend the physical effort.
At the time I knew I’d never be him. He was simply too old and it’d take me forever to get there and become him. But guess what? It doesn’t take that long at all, does it?
A few years later, I had an opportunity to visit with my grandfather frequently and talk about what he called, “the olden days.”
He’d reminisce for a while and occasionally smile at what he recalled and then suddenly grow a little more somber, stare out the window and say, “But they’re all gone now.”
He’d lived so long that most of the others, the early participants in his life, were all gone.
I thought about that today because my parents just lost another good friend. Actually, we all did.
But for them this was another one of those friends that was there from the beginning, who they could talk to about the good old times that are worth a lot more, when you can share them.
Holten is the executive director of the North Dakota Cowboy Association and writes a weekly column for The Press.

Holten
Kevin Holten

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