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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

The Perfect Age

I am hardly the first person to write about this subject. Poets and songwriters have been musing about the topic for centuries. What is the perfect age to be? I think I have heard just about every tired expression, including those shop-worn epigrams “youth is wasted on the young”, and “with age comes wisdom”. None of this resonates with me. In fact, I find such phrases empty at best, cynical at worst. Who would deny youth the sweetness of a first love, the sense of endless opportunity stretching out before them? Not me. And for the record, I have met many an aging individual who despite his or her years has yet to attain a single grain of wisdom. Nope, I am afraid we have to look elsewhere to find the answer to what is the perfect age.

Looking backwards, who among us has not at times thought what our life might be if we could do it-over, perhaps then we could experience the perfect age? If only we could know what we know today we might live our lives very differently, we might attain perfection. But of course, we cannot know how that might turn out—very possibly it would not be what we hoped for, and we would quite probably miss many of the wonderful people and experiences we have had along the way. It is probably best to leave the past where it belongs, in the past. The only baggage we should take with us from that time are the lessons we learned—the life experiences and the friends and loved ones we gained.

If the perfect age does not lie in our past, then perhaps it is yet to come. I have been reading lately that not all of our ‘peaks’ are over and done with by age 30 as some might suggest. In fact, one study contends that we are more forgiving, sensitive to other’s feelings, self- accepting, and indeed, happier as we age. Maybe so. But they have not talked with some of my acquaintances who see age as an enemy, something to be conquered.

I confess, there are mornings when I do the inventory of my aging body and its assorted aches and think that it would be great if I had the body of a younger man. Then I go to the gym and watch younger men pushing themselves to attain some muscular perfection and silently give thanks that I am able to accept what I have, it is far from perfect, but I show up and do the work.

One day, while resting between sets, my mind drifted as it sometimes does, to my college days. Surely, they were the perfect age. And for a moment in the mist of recollection they were, but all too soon I recalled that along with all of the wonderful experiences there were also challenges, and disappointments, mostly attributable to my lack of wisdom and all too human flaws. So no, college was not the perfect age either. It seemed to me that all of my life I had been waiting for the perfect age to come. What was it I was waiting for?

Throughout my life it seemed, I had been waiting; waiting on something to change, to improve, to heal, as if tomorrow would bring the answer I needed. That would be the perfect age to be—when the waiting was over and all that I sought and needed were delivered. This idea of waiting is an interesting one. Often, we use the expression to mean waiting on some higher power, perhaps God, to do something for us. Wasn’t that what I had been doing, waiting on some higher power to make things happen?

That’s when it hit me, I had this all wrong—the perfect age is now, just as it was 10 years ago, 30 years ago, whatever age I was. And in truth as I thought more about this it became clearer to me that at every age I had been blessed to have the people in my life and the experiences that I needed. I had never lacked for someone or something, my restiveness came from within me.

You see, I wasn’t waiting on God, he was waiting on me. He was waiting for me to recognize that he had provided everything I needed. I was one that kept thinking the best part was yet to come when it was already here. The perfect age? It is wherever we are. What we need is abundant and at hand, we have only to see and accept it.

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