How to be old—a poem
How to be old: a poem
You can't be old without being young for a very long time I'm sorry my dears but that's how it is. Old age is your reward but you have to earn it. You have to put in the hours you have to learn it.
Young, young, young, on and on it goes then grown up then middle aged mile after mile, year after year after year. Mummy, Daddy, when are we going to get there?
You can't be old without being young for a very very very long time
You're allowed to think you're old but not to say so. Where's the fun in that? Simmer down. Have a banana. Let's get this straight.
1. Chronological age: that's what they mean when they say “Age is just a number.” It’s the number of birthdays that you’ve had and you have to have lots of birthdays to be old. I know it's not fair but what can you do? Blame statins and vaccinations and sewage pipes for that. 2. Biological age. That's different and it shows in skin and bones and brains. That's what they mean when they say "You look young for your age." Or old.
3. Then there’s a certain attitude to life. That's what they mean when they say “It's all in the mind.” But attitude has nothing to do with youth.
It’s true that some old people lose the ability to enthuse. They refuse. They recuse. That's not being old! That's being sad. Or grumpy.
So there it is. If you want to be old one day— and you do, you know you do— you want that secret smile you want serenity You want our personality! Our insolence and honesty our sagacity our cushion of identity you want old friends you want photographs and knick-knacks you want long-term insights you want to be a family tree— If you want to be old, you can by staying alive for years and years and years and years hanging in there for your reward: old age.
You can't be old without being young for a long long long long long long long long long long long long long long long long time.
—Rachel McAlpine 2021 CC BY 2.0Follow Write Into Life
33 thoughts on “How to be old—a poem”
Love this poem Rachel.
So far so good!
Which lines do you like best, Sadie?
The repeating lines.
Aha, that’s helpful, thanks
You’re welcome 😉
This is a delightful poem, read in the middle of the night by one who couldn’t sleep because of pain in the hip. Hooray for getting old! I’m going to hug your poem until I get to sleep again.
I’m so happy with your message, Anne. I’m glad the poem helped.
Love it! This is my favorite stanza:
It’s true that some old people lose
the ability to enthuse.
They refuse. They recuse.
That’s not being old! That’s being sad. Or grumpy.
because there’s so much truth in that! I’m going to carry on today trying not to be sad or grumpy.:-)
Priscilla, you know I’m talking to myself, really. So I understand and am so glad the poem helps.
I could hear you reading this Rachel, even though you weren’t! I think sewage pipes feature quite often in how to be old!
Aha! Maybe I should read this one soon. Yay for sewage pipes!
Now this is perfect. And oh so true.
“Perfect” is interesting to me; maybe I will stop working on it.
The refrain is spot on. I remember an old song from long ago “take a long long time to get old.”
I haven’t heard that one but it is good advice.
A delightful way of looking on getting old.
84 here, and happy to be still “moving about.”
“Beside a babbling brook” blog
That was definitely a fun poem Rachel! Excellent and pretty much true! Lol. Thank you for sharing that!!
Happy you liked it, Liola Lee! And that you appreciate the idea as well.
It brought to mind the poem “Birthdays” (as per your process of time) by Brian Turner. The lovely process of children and holding them then letting them go and then in the end “supremely, you’re summoned back and they carry you around inside them dangling like a medal beside their hearts”. The great prize of contentment and gratitude then is the end default for such lucky older ones.
Oh, oh, I must find that poem. Thank you Rein.
My grandma (91 years old) often tells me that she still feels a young lady so I can somehow understand this poem… 🙈⚘ wonderful!
How beautifullly you knit the poem to your own experience. I love seeing that happen.
I want to be old enough to hear people say, “my, what wisdom he has”. I don’t want to hear ‘had’. Of course, I never would now, would I. Would I?😉
Listen carefully from a quiet corner. That’s what they’re saying all over town.
One more thought, have you seen the performance by George Burns (you know him) singing, ‘I Wish I Was Eighteen, Again’?
I have now (speeded it up). Not my style but maybe it will make sense to me when I’m 99.
Thank you Lorie for linking. So happy you enjoyed the poem.
You have to get old so the little ones can call you Grampa.