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S“Pretend you are very old. Move at half speed carefully. Do this when you are in a great hurry.” Prompt #10 by Ruth Ozeki in Choices (Borderline Press, 2016)

If you are already a septuagenarian, like me, do you need to pretend you are very old?

No. Pretense was unnecessary when I took a 4-mile hike today with four grandchildren (ages4-12) and my daughter-in-law, who didn’t tell me the hike was up––make that UP! Hiking at half speed, my back bent over in decrepitude, and my eyes wedded to the rocky path to prevent tipping over, were all natural proclivities for me as the five of them scampered up the trail, led by Fletcher, their precocious and speedy Labradoodle.

The thing is, I never say I’m old.  I don’t admit to being past my prime, not long for this world, over the hill, or even elderly. I can’t stand to write the word dotage and I am not superannuated, senile, or senescent.  I couldn’t be. I know the meanings of those three words.

I am nowhere near grizzled, hoary, or ancient but I wouldn’t mind being called venerable or wise, even if those descriptors aren’t true. I’m retired, but my retreaded life is moving along the quite nicely, thank you. I am no spring chicken, but there is nothing sprung about me, or so I thought until we took that hike.

The World Health Organization says that the accepted definition of “elderly” by most developed countries in the world is the chronological age of 65 years. Sigh. Okay. But I don’t have to like it. Call me seasoned instead.

And the next time we go on a hike, I’m going to catch up with these guys, Finn and Harper.