My driver's license says I'm 63. So does my birth certificate. But how old am I, really? Answering that question requires that we get down to what's real.
And that's a matter of opinion.
Yes, I believe in objective reality when it comes to science. I won't argue calendar facts. The Earth takes a year to go around the sun. I've been alive for 63 of them. No argument there.
But subjective reality is really real also. When I ignore the subjectively irrelevant detail of my calendar age, close my eyes, forget the past, focus on the now, and simply feel how old I am, I have no idea. None at all.
So far as I can tell, I'm ageless.
Getting back into recollection mode, I try to remember how it felt to be ten years old. Meaning, what the conscious experience of being me was like. Pretty damn close, if not exactly, like it feels now. Ditto if I think about what it felt to be 20, 30, 40, 50.
Given this subjective fact, I'm evolving a personal theory about aging: it's biological for sure, yet psychology plays at least as important a role. We're told, "act your age."
Bad idea. Really bad idea.
Doing that locks us into a mindset dominated by the calendar, not our genuine self. More accurately, our genuine non-self. There's nobody 63 years old inside my head. Neuroscience can't find a senior citizen in my brain's neurons.
Whatever old person exists within my psyche is created by my own mental processes, and those can be altered.
I really enjoy looking at my skateboard (longboard) whenever I go into the room where I keep it.
I haven't had time to practice riding it for a few days. Tomorrow, probably. I've loosened up the trucks, which makes it easier to turn. I'm still a beginner, but after a few hours of longboarding I feel like I'm ready to move on to another level of learning.
Understand: acting a quarter my age (lots of longboarders are teenagers) would be ridiculous if I was forcing myself to do it. There's nothing more fakey than an old guy/gal who artifically tries to look and act like someone much younger.
However, if the part of you that doesn't know how old the calendar says you are speaks, "do it!", pay attention.
Whatever it is -- if not excessively illegal or immoral.
When a 71 year old guy who struck me as ageless told me about how much he liked longboarding, my intuitive immediate reaction was "yes! that's for me!" Later, if I thought about my chronological age, some qualms would start to arise.
But when I simply focused on how I felt about smoothly carving my way down sloping streets or paved pathways, considering the fitness of my in-shape senior citizen body as objectively as I could, there didn't seem to be any reason to act my age.
Like I said before, I believe that each of us plays a big role in how aging affects us. Dwelling on how many years the calendar says we've been alive pushes an essentially irrelevant fact into the forefront of our psyche, obscuring our subjectively truer sense of how old we feel ourselves to be.
A few days ago I had an interesting experience.
A friend told me that he'd been hitting his head quite often lately. He didn't know why. He'd just been bumping into stuff, including a painful encounter with a large bolt above him that he wasn't aware of before straightening up.
For at least fifteen years, maybe twenty, I've been using the same sort of weight machines at our athletic club. I can't recall ever hitting my head on them. Until the very afternoon of the day I'd heard about my friend's head bumping problems.
After leaning in to change the pin which controls a machine's weight stack, I hit my head on a metal support. Damn, it hurt! I ran my fingers through my hair to see if I was bleeding. Nope. But it sure felt like I should have been.
My first thought after Damn! was... "I'd just heard about someone else hitting his head. Is it possible that my unconscious guided me to mimic what happened to him?"
Sure seems possible. Our brains work in mysterious ways. For sure, I don't believe we create our own objective reality. I'm too scientific for that. However, I do believe that we largely create our own subjective reality.
What we think about, what enters our brains through other means, all that alters our inner geography. We form the world within which we live, then continually reform it through every thought, emotion, perception, sensation.
So don't think about how old you are. Feel how old you are. Wordlessly. Intuitively. If you feel ageless, or much younger than your years, that's more true than what your driver's license tells you. Regardless, don't worry about acting your age.
Act however you damn well feel like.
"Safety Huey" would agree. He's a long-haired longboarder of indeterminate age who is featured in a You Tube video showing tips for safely longboarding in the Portland hills. (There's no way to truly satirize Portland; this wonderful city to the north of me is a beautiful satire of itself.)
Safety Huey wears a t-shirt that says, "65 isn't old, if you're a tree." Well, then, be a tree.