Irene celebrated her 91st birthday today. How do I know? She was at Jazzercise at 8:15 a.m., as she is every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Irene was wearing a t-shirt that said “Inside every old person is a younger person wondering what the hell happened.”
She got on stage with the instructor and began to shimmy to a very modern “put your hands in the air” song. Making a ‘bad girl’ face, she burst out laughing and then made sure to hold the hand rail on her way off the stage. I don’t know anything about her life. We don’t chat at class. She may have lived a charmed life or had endless tragedy, but Irene is my hero. She demonstrates every aspect of how to live without depression.
In US culture are relentless in our deprecation of the signs of age. We mock wrinkles and flabby arms. We are impatient with slowness both mental and physical. We don’t seek wisdom and serenity, we seek wit and flash. And as I head straight into the first stage of old age, I am not happy about that. I can get discouraged about life having not brought all I want. I can feel discouraged about what I have lost. But that route is a dead end. It can only lead to spending my life depressed.