After 50, my mantra has been to consciously stay relevant, involved, engaged and in the game – whatever the game happens to be. There is nothing in that statement that speaks of aging. However this mantra does not acknowledge the aches and pains that slow us down and can make us feel “our age.”
After a summer of reality checks with my body, tempering a 3 sport a day routine down to a mere 2 (one activity now includes a nap), I asked myself – what makes me feel young – or old?
One thing that made me feel old was reading that Roger Federer would be sitting out this 2016 US Open because of his knee issue.
It’s one thing to shift our routines to accommodate our aging bodies – but when someone we view as young, virile and indomitable is now the “old guy,” well, that makes my muscles cramp up a bit.
I am a huge Roger Federer fan and was saddened we won’t be watching him this year. He’s 35 years old and I know that’s considered almost aging out in most sports, but if 50 is the new 40 well then, why can’t that apply to Roger? According to that formula, he should have another 10 years. But tennis is not a sport where we see a lot of “older” players. Despite the fact there are 49 players this year in the over 30 age group (up from 40 last year) the oldest player is just 37 years old — Radek Stepnak. http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/scouting-report-us-open-2016
It’s no surprise that one of the most shared New York Times stories this week was, Even Roger Federer Gets Old.
“Do you think of Roger Federer as old?” I asked my boys.
They were all over this question…..
“We measure our age in the lifetime of our favorite athletes. It was a big hit on our youth when Derek Jeter retired. Remember Mom, we watched him in our basement in 1996 with our babysitter Alyssa. And, to think Peyton Manning is no longer playing football. He was the #1 draft pick when I was a kid. My memory of watching football started with him in 1999. Now he is retired and that makes me feel like I’m getting older.”
They went on, “When you realize all your childhood dreams are not possible because your favorite athlete is younger than you – well that’s a reality check. Look at the star short stop for the Red Sox, Xander Bogaerts, he is 24 years old. That’s young which makes us – well you know….”
I never realized a conversation about aging out with my kids would be something we could connect on. They too are feeling what it means to be getting older.
“But, maybe that’s just in sports, what about in other aspects of life?” I asked.
“Well, I don’t think 65 yrs. is old – maybe not even 70. When I golf with a 70 year old who plays well, I never think of them as old,” said my golfer son.
Hmmm, I think we are on to something. I started chanting my mantra again: “stay in the game, be relevant, involved, and engaged.”
My boys continued, “Sports players in their 30’s are old – there is an age limit and we all know it but it’s hard to acknowledge our hero’s are done.”
“In the music world old depends on the genre. If you are really successful you can be older – meaning if you are 30 with 6 hit songs you are young. If you are 30 with no hit songs – well then – you are not so young.
“Macklemore didn’t have success until 2014 when he won best new artist and 4 Grammys – he was 31 and a rapper. JZ is over 40 and he’s a rapper (young genre older guy but feels young). Do you think of him as old? Do you think of Beyonce, as old, she’s 34? Madonna at 58?”
“So back to Federer, I like to think that he is just resting, not old… but taking a break,” I sighed.
“Mom, I know you are thinking about your aging stuff and I just want you to know, you are not old. You do so many sports, you work and you have great energy.”
Smiling I responded, “Hey, we were talking about Federer.”
“You are not old until you stop – and you aren’t stopping anytime soon so get over it,” they chimed in. I was getting pumped up and began humming my mantra.
“Love my boys,” I thought.
Let the US Open begin. Yes we will miss Federer and even if he’s not in “this” game, lord knows he will find another that will make him feel relevant and engaged, and in his case – rich. My bet is he’ll be back, look at Chris Everett and John McEnroe.