Many of my friends tell me that they are “Too Old” to do something. It seems that the human race front loads our expectations with respect to life.
What am I talking about? Well, we are told by our parents, friends and colleagues that we should enjoy various aspects of life while we still can. No one tells you that you need to wait to enjoy something.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I plan to enjoy life right up until the last few milliseconds. In order to do that, I will have to stay active and I expect that will get harder, so I’m preparing myself now. That aside, there is more to it than that.
What I recently realized is that in some cases we are missing the point with respect to aging and experiencing life. There are somethings that we cannot enjoy when we are young. In fact there are many things where timing is critical to maximizing the experience and if we are focusing on what we have lost as we age, we will miss them.
I hear you saying WTF, but consider this. I was born with a hyperactive sense of smell and taste. I could not use butter if someone else had used a knife with mustard on it to butter something. I could taste and smell the mustard and I found it overpowering.
Add fifty years to that same situation and we find that my senses have decreased and now I can enjoy many different types of mustards and other strong tastes and smells. In fact, I can now enjoy single malt scotch, something I couldn’t do when I was young. I can taste the subtle differences and appreciate the art involved.
Some people would say “I have acquired a taste for these things”, but that is not so in my case. I had to wait until my body was ready.
What else falls in this category? What other things in life require a change in your body to appreciate? Senses are continuously changing and we know that our bodies compensate. A blind person for example, will most likely have much sharper hearing. Does this happen with people in their “Golden Years” ?
Then there is the fact that we gain experience as we travel through life. When we heard a sound as a child, we could not appreciate it because we didn’t know what it was. With a life time of experience we can do things like pick out spices from the taste of our food and predict the weather by subtle changes in our environment. We can walk in a forest and hear different types of birds.
I have noticed that the changes in our bodies are different for each person and also seem to follow trends based on gender. This could be evolutionary based on historical gender roles. I’ve noticed that many women have their sense of smell become more acute with age. As a scientist I have to constantly ask the question why?
I challenge you to help me to build a road map or guideline to identify different experiences and what age we need to be to maximize that experience.