Spring Chickens Can’t Fly
By Donna G. Morton
There was a time when I could stretch out on the sofa, yap on the phone, map out my life and contemplate anything. I could do it for hours without uttering a yawn. These days, if I stretch out on the sofa, I go to sleep. If I want to get through a night of "Must-See TV", I’d better be sitting up. Or better yet, standing up and multi-tasking.
Forget the Tylenol PM. For me, there’s no better sleep aid than a sofa and a DVD I’ve been dying to see.
When did this happen? When did I get so tired? When did I start—dare I say it—getting older?
I always thought I’d die young. I did this because I couldn’t imagine myself getting older, but here I am—doing just that.
Now, at 40-something, I’m not ready for soft-food-only…and with my children yet to hit the high school years, I pray there are some miles left on my Mommy Running Shoes; however, there’s no denying the truth: Father Time ain’t moving counter-clockwise.
I love quotes and decided to find some related to aging, hoping they’d sum up the inevitable and wrap it in beauty…but being compared to fruit in full season didn’t do it for me. Ditto for wine sitting on a shelf in some dark cellar. Having my life likened to sand slipping through an hourglass was downright depressing. The worst one—"The older the fiddle, the sweeter the tune"—was the absolute end. Never will I claim those desperate-words-of attempted-wisdom as my personal motto. It was time to find another website.
Much more uplifting were these:
"Fifty is the new thirty." (Oprah)
"Live your life—forget your age" (Norman Vincent Peele)
"Age is mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter." (Mark Twain)
"Middle age is what begins 10 years after whatever birthday you’re celebrating."
Though I’m not sure who said it, I really like that one—have actually been applying that principle for a few years now—but my favorite is this:
"Age doesn’t matter…unless you’re a cheese."
Believing the Bible to be the final authority on everything, I searched it as well. While pleased to read that many Bible writers complimented aging—its wisdom and understanding—I was looking for something that referred to the physical. And I wanted something strong, something like, "The older a woman gets, the more perfect she becomes, SO SAYEST THE LORD!!!" There now, that would settle it, but my journey yielded nothing that firm – though it did lead me through rivers of advice on how to live a happy and contented life…and, if we know the secret to that, then age really should come gracefully.
How we fight it, though! And honestly, there are no words that’ll make us celebrate another laugh line or rejoice when we can’t unfold from the Lotus position as smoothly as we could at 25. And while Proverbs 20:29 says that gray hair is the splendor of the old, I don’t know a soul who peers hopefully in the mirror in search of such. We’re as eager to turn gray as we are to be declared fiber-challenged.
Fact is, unless you’re waiting to turn 16 or 21, getting older isn’t something you dream about. But…disliking the aging process doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is how people debilitate themselves with limitations-- simply because they’ve passed a certain age marker.
"I’m too old to try that."
"Maybe if I was younger."
Well, how blessed we are that Laura Ingels Wilder didn’t feel that way. Otherwise, we’d have missed the "Little House" books, which she started writing at age 65. None of us would have earned that sewing badge had Julliette Gordon Lowe been too tired to establish the Girl Scouts when she was 52. If Clara Barton had been planning her funeral at age 62, the American Red Cross might not exist. And how many more would have perished if the Unsinkable Molly Brown believed that, at 45, she didn’t have the energy to help fellow travelers off the doomed Titantic?
History might’ve been altered if Sjorne Smith avoided giving passionate speeches on suffrage, fearing nobody would care what a 54-year-old woman had to say. If being over 30 were synonymous with a stoplight, Mary Kay Ash would’ve never started her own corporation at 47 and Billie Letts would’ve never published her first novel (Where the Heart Is) at age 56. Aviator Jackie Cochran, at 47, would not have been the first woman to break the sound barrier. Actress Beverly D’Angelo would not have become a first-time mom at 49 and Demi Moore would not be dating Ashton Kutcher.
The French Chef didn’t come into our kitchens until she was teetering on 50, and Ma Barker was masterminding bank robberies while pushing 60. (Okay, not the best example, but I thought it was interesting).
Last but not least, there was a woman who felt led to start her own ministry, even though the Arch Bishop of Calcutta accused her of not being able to light a chapel candle much less a ministry. Well, Mother Theresa sure didn’t let him—or 40 candles on the birthday cake—stop her from answering a call to service.
Amazing what these women did—even though they weren’t spring chickens.
They proved that life experience equips us to do what spring chickens can’t do—FLY.
That’s right. Spring chickens can’t fly. Oh, there are definitely exceptions, but many are the way I was as a chick-a-dee...I could squawk a good one and flitter about the barnyard, but I didn't have the know-how to lift-off and sail over the wire coop.
"Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?" Job 12:12
Yes—and while we may not be called to start a foundation or lead an army, our lives can certainly be enhanced— despite the arrival of yet another birthday. As long as we continue to seek God and His will for our lives, we allow the Holy Spirit to operate in ways that bless others, fulfill our hearts and, above all, glorify our Lord. We’ll never be counted among those Henry David Thoreau spoke of when he said, "None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm."
I think the Lord was working through the creative minds who planned the old ad campaign for Loving Care hair color. Remember the slogan?
"You’re not getting older…you’re getting better."
It’s true—I especially realize it when I look at old photographs, taken back in the days when I actually thought I looked good in permed hair and parachute pants.
With the Loving Care slogan in mind, I believe I’ll celebrate my next birthday with a big hunk of cheese.
One that’s been aged to perfection.
Donna Morton lives in the Atlanta, Georgia area with her husband and two sons. Her writing career began in print and broadcast advertising. She is currently a freelance newspaper reporter and photographer. Because of her writing exposure at Faithwriters, her work has been used in several on-line magazines, in Bible studies and prison ministries.
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