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  • theaparikos

Living and growing older

I’ve been reflecting lately on the number of times people have asked me my age – sometimes when I speak on a podcast, or even by people coming to the island meeting me for the first time, and I’m always left baffled for a moment, having to think of the year I was born to get the number! This is not because I have an issue with my age. But it seems when I answer the question, I am immediately put into a certain category. It’s as if I bump up against a certain idea that society has for how someone should be in their 50s, 60s, and even into their 80s. I don't like being put into a box or labelled in any way. Personally, I don't feel that I fit in a particular box. Do I feel older? Of course. Do I feel that I am getting old? Of course not! Each year when I usually travel to the States to see my family, it would always come as a shock to see so many advertisements and magazines with images that are obsessed with youth. Then it got me thinking why the question about my age irks me so much, it’s because in Ikaria age is not really important. Of course, we don’t have these kinds of billboards on the island. But age never comes up in conversation. If you are on a table of friends at a party, you will see a big age difference. At family gatherings everyone sits at the same table. There isn't the concept of the “children's table” here on the island. The grandchildren sit together with the teens and the adults, and the grandparents all together. I have a close friend of mine who is 14 years younger than me. When we realized our age difference after we talked about age on the island, we had a good laugh. Some might think I should probably be hanging out with her mom. But I have friends my age and also older than me and much younger than me. I think the character of the person shines through at any age. Some days I feel younger and some days older. But here on Ikaria, aging is natural and has to do with the gentle passing of time, it’s not something we angst over and its rarely given any thought. Life is to be lived daily in the present moment. I still think about what I want to do with my life and where I would like to be in 5 years’ time. There is definitely no concept of “retirement”. People look forward to getting their pension, so they have more freedom, but the irony is that their lives typically stay the same - keeping busy in the outdoors, tending gardens, staying active and keeping social. I do think about slowing down to spend more time doing activities I enjoy and more time with the people I love. It seems that people focus too much on age and aging. Every age has its joys and can be celebrated. So, let’s enjoy, live it and quit worrying about getting older. It happens to us all! These are my thoughts on this quiet Sunday afternoon....

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