Friday, May 17, 2013

Growing Older But Not Up

 In the song, "Growing Older, But Not Up," Jimmy Buffet sings about the idea of growing older but still having a sense of fun and play by not fully growing up. He is experiencing the realities of growing older - pain, creaking joints, brittle bones, etc. - but he is determined to live to the fullest.  He proudly proclaims, "I'd rather die while I'm living than live while I'm dead."

I am a 50 year old woman who likes to watch action movies, go to the park, golf or putt-putt, and spend time on the beach. I play video games with my son and go out for fun on date night. I laugh at life and at myself ... often.

But I also spend a lot of time paying bills, cleaning house, working for my professional advancement, grading papers, writing my next book, and taking care of "grown-up" things. They take up too much time, but I actually took some advice growing up to find something I love to do and figure out a way to get paid for it. I do love my job.

I have joints that creak and more than one story of a bone breaking without much drama involved. I feel my age some days more than others. There are times I crackle and pop more than a breakfast cereal. It is all part of growing older.

But being a "grown-up" can be rough at times. There are days I just want to sleep until noon and pull the covers up to make the world go away. There are days when I want to slap on the skis and go up the chairlift to take on a black diamond run again. There are days that I want someone else to be the grown up so that I can go play.

And there are days when I wish I could go back and be a 20 year old taking on the world all over again with new possibilities. (And there are definitely a few things my older self would tell my younger self NOT to do the second time around).

However, when I stop and look at my family I am amazed. I sit and watch my 14 year old son - who is annoying, amazing, compassionate, grumpy, messy, intelligent, creative, loving, and talented - and I cannot imagine my life without him. My immediate and extended family makes me a better person and adds joy to my life daily. I can't imagine not having them in my life.

I think back on the amazing years of classroom experience I had in Texas teaching History, Government, and Geography to sophomores and seniors and I would not pass that up. What fabulous memories I have of those days creating a game called Wheel of Feudalism for my students and playing Trivia with Historic facts and figures. How would I teach seminary students today the way I do without those early experiments with engaging learning?

I reminisce about helping my sister raise her two daughters while she was going back to school. I would not trade that time with Jordyn and Jonna for anything in the world. They are brave, bold and independent young women. And I can see glimpses of me in both of them and that makes me proud. How would I trade that in for being young again?

I remember the many lives I touched and was touched by in ministry as a United Methodist pastor in Kansas and New Jersey and I would not change a thing. I remember the 11pm Bible Studies at Kansas State and the Campus Ministry and Youth trips to Tennessee and Chicago.  I remember the hospital visits, a wedding when the drapes caught on fire, and the many baptisms I was privileged to be part of. I went to countless lock-ins and had more bad pizza than I care to remember. (A big reason I rarely eat it now.)

So I am growing older. And I am growing up. I don't want to miss out on the amazing things that have happened and that are yet to happen. I want to live fully into my old age. I want to remember all of these great experiences and have even more with my family, in the classroom, and with my writing/scholarship.

But I'm still gonna play. I'm going to take off on a Wednesday afternoon and go see an action movie. I'm going to go play putt-putt with the family, I am going to go to the beach and be lazy or maybe float for hours on the waves. I am going to go to Beer-B-Q events with my Lutheran friends even though I do not drink.

I am going to throw the frisbee and tickle my almost grown son. I am going to run off to see a musical in the city when I can. I am going to play video games with my kid and go on walks through the woods. And I am going to sleep-in on occasion and pull the covers up to make the world go away.

But only for a little while. Because my life is too amazing and too rich to miss anything - past, present or future.

I'm growing older, but not up to the point I forget to have fun.

So I share a favorite prayer -- "In Christ's name we play."

Go have fun. Enjoy the day.

Be a kid again - just don't wish your life away.

Go live it.

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