There’s a classic old joke about aging that goes something like this:

“The second thing to go as we age is our memory.”

“Really? What’s the first?”

“I don’t know. I can’t remember.” 

It’s a little silly, I know. It’s also a little bit funny. And let’s be honest, it’s true. I know that (and I can say that), because I’m a card-carrying member of the Baby Boomer generation. 

I remember when I started noticing little blips in my recall. It bothered me. I’d reach for a word, and it wasn’t there. I’d greet an acquaintance, just to awkwardly stumble past her name because I couldn’t remember it. Like so many others of us, I suppose, I began to worry that I was experiencing more than an occasional lost word or forgotten name. 

Turns out, as we age we all temporarily grasp for a word or a name, and that’s OK. By the time we arrive in the land of 50-plus, there are an awful lot of names, memories, cues and information stored in our heads. It just makes sense that some of that data gets crowded out at times.

I had an encounter with a 28-year-old man a few weeks ago. I was speaking at a book festival, and he was in attendance. He was smart, obviously confident, and more than a little cocky. During the Q & A portion of my talk, this young man asked me if writing has become more difficult for me as I age. 

I’ll be honest. My first reaction was to ask him, “Age? Who’s aging?” You see in our minds, we don’t really feel older as we add to our trips around the sun, do we? Our knees, back, and hips keep trying to tell us that we are, but inside, the 20-year-old ME still hangs out, listens to great music, and remembers things on the fly. She takes the steps two at a time, bends without creaking, and calls both friends and acquaintances by name. She never forgets appointments. I like her a lot.

I didn’t go with my first reaction to this guy’s question. Instead, I smiled and said, “No, writing hasn’t become harder for me. You see, with a 50-plus year stockpile of words, images, memories and experiences, writing has somehow become more fun for me, a richer experience. More pleasurable. If anything, I believe my writing has become more resonant as I age. I certainly enjoy it more.”

To his credit, the young man answered me with a succinct, “Cool. OK good to know,” and sat down.

For those of you who are also Boomers, wouldn’t you agree? Our years of life don’t dim our capacities; rather, they enrich them. Do I occasionally have to reach for a word that used to come so easily? I do. But when I hear a song from my youth (and let’s face it, there’s never been better music before or after our generation’s), the words come easily, and the memories flow right along with the music. What used to be a one-dimensional experience has become three-dimensional, and it rocks. 

And think about this. There’s a reason Hollywood keeps churning out classic movie re-makes. They were great the first time, hard to top. The remakes never seem to measure up, do they? But you’d only know that if you’d seen the originals.

At our age, we also have the advantage of having been there and done that. Experience is a remarkable teacher. For instance, I’ve worn bell bottoms, so I don’t feel the need to do that again. Men and women wore platform shoes the first go ‘round, in the late 1970s.They were a bad idea then, and they’re still a bad idea, both orthopedically and in a fashion sense. I loved the shoulder pads of the 1980s, so if they make a comeback, I’m in. Same goes for big hair. I know all these things, because I’ve lived all these things. 

My husband and I were scrolling through the hundreds of streaming selections on our TV last weekend, and we couldn’t find a single show or movie that looked interesting. Eventually, we stumbled across a show that we binge-watched back when the pandemic started. We looked at each other with a nod of approval, and chose to watch that series. You see, at our age, every series is a new one, if we just wait a year or so to watch it again. 

We’ve saved a fortune on subscription streaming services with this newfound knowledge.

Are you fortunate enough to be a member of the Baby Boomer generation? I hope you’ll share your favorite thing about having been there and done that, or about facing this next phase of life with both knowledge and experience under your belt.

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