The Difference Between Aging And Growing Old


Dear Blue,


We’re just about through the birthday gauntlet. For some reason, nearly everyone in our family is born in the first three months of the year. This week, it was your Uncle Patrick (March 2) and your gonggong (March 5). We called your Uncle Patrick so you could say Happy Birthday. Well, at least in theory because your vocabulary is currently limited to “Da” and “Ba.” You at least managed to give him a facetime high five, and you got to see snow, so that was cool.


Anyway, your uncle turned 29. My brother is almost 30, and I want to point out at right now that I am older than 29, and I may, just may, get confused with the fact that your uncle is my brother and say your brother. Or my uncle. Maybe we should just call him uncle brother.


Your Uncle Brother Patrick turned 29, and he was not too thrilled about it. Not too many people are thrilled with that number, Blue. It’s one less than 30, and more reminder that you are not, in fact, immortal, and that you are, in fact, getting older. In many ways, 29 is far worse than 30. It’s kind of like the novocaine in your mouth just before the dentist starts drilling into a cavity.


In the year 2044 (that’s crazy), you will approach this same milestone. Hopefully you reach it with poise and calm instead of panic and despair. This hope, in many ways, led me to a question I’m asking myself right now. How do we help you?


The key is simple. There’s a huge difference between aging and growing old. We all age. It’s something we can’t avoid. No one is immune from the effects of father time on our bodies, but our minds? Our soul? That’s a different story. This is why even as you age, Blue, you must never grow old.


At 13 months, you find everything fascinating. Today, you saw these things for the first time at the farmer’s market: kettle cooked popcorn, a kettle, a train, tree roots, bluegrass music, a Chihuahua, a rice ball. There’s probably more, but what’s important is not how many things you noticed, but how you noticed them. You were fascinated, transfixed by everything you saw. An infinite amount of curiosity wrapped in your tiny, tottering frame. I want you to keep that infinity all of your days.


This sounds easy, but it isn’t. People forget to be curious, Blue. They settle in to familiar patterns, grow comfortable with what is rather than what could be, and they grow old.


Avoid this. Stay curious, Blue. Always. You’ll age, but you won’t get old.


And just think, when you’re about to turn 30 and your Uncle Brother Patrick is about to turn 60, you can teach him how to program his self-guided space shuttle to visit you on the moon for your birthday party. He’ll come, because he’s aging, not old.










One thought on “The Difference Between Aging And Growing Old

  1. This is the second time today that I’ve had the thought “I think it would be better if adults were like children sometimes.” Curiosity is a wonderful thing to have. Without it, life is incredibly tedious.

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