Thursday, March 15, 2007

What defines "old"?

Without sound she entered the restaurant. I am unsure whether she actually crossed the door's threshold or simply coalesced like a cloud; her entire being appeared to flow and glide instead of walk. She seemed not to touch the floor, rather floating along a wispy cushion of vapor above the tiles.

Her dress was reminiscent of days when girls with flowers in their hair, and peace signs around their necks, festooned themselves in long flowing, quilted, colorful skirts and off-white, unadorned, peasant tops. Although I did not smell patchouli oil, it would not have been out of character.

Instead of sandals on her feet, she wore cross trainers and wool socks. It would be logical to presume her to be a jogger as she had a healthful, athletic appearance, yet her lithe gait was defined less by hard pounding on pavement, and more by the smooth, poised, balanced, gracefulness of ballet.

The most astonishing aspect of her appearance was her hair; one would expect it to radiate the essence of youth - and it did, sort of. It was silky, elegant, long, velvety - and completely gray. I have gray hair, but in color the comparison ends. I fight to have mine lie neatly upon my scalp; refusing, instead it opts to stand upright like so many fully charged electrical wires. Hers was orderly and smooth, and - as were her movements - fluid.

Even money says she was well north of 70 years, her years on Earth given away only by the lines on her face. Even so, she was without age, timeless. Her complexion still glowed; her smile radiated, her eyes twinkled sharply and bright with spirit.

How then does one define "old"?

All the evidence I needed that age is not on a driver's license nor derived from years on a calendar, was this woman. So many "elders" thrive with spark and vigor well beyond the day that others - much "younger" - have passed from this planet. The rough storm of time batters us all, yet how do so many sail smoothly with the full wind of life until their last moments?

What awaits us?

Like most, I am reticent to find my answer. Yet in her vital, ageless presence, I felt calmed. If I take care of my health and seek peace in the moment, I still feel so new.

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