'Old' is a state of mind you don't have to visit

Old. That's the way I felt a few weeks ago. In fact, I wrote a column about the difference between being "old" and being "mature."

All because a pleasant young woman from the University of Missouri School of Journalism called to interview me about my "successful career" for some alumni publication.

Thinking about college, recalling career "highlights" before computers and cellphones and social media, is recalling ancient history today. My sights are usually set on the future, not the past.

And compounding this hoary, aging attitude is the recent visit of my grandson. He's almost 16 and he lives in Maui. He's never heard of Gene Autry.

My column on aging versus maturing drew an e-mail from a Texas reader who leveled years of sourness at me. "You are no friend of the people over 60," this guy wrote. "If we all listened to you, we would never relax and enjoy life. We would just keep working."

Hey, buster, one man's golf game is another's day at the office!

I'd be the first to say there's nothing wrong with aging. In fact, the alternative is a grim consideration.

Yet, there's a difference between aging and feeling old, I'm discovering.

For a few minutes, nay, a few days I let myself wallow in pity. I thought about how times have changed and, instead of praising progress, focused on the past as if it were to be revered.

Sure, it was fun to get a cherry Coke for a nickel at the drugstore soda fountain when I was a little kid. Back before we knew that drinking fizzies upped our sugar intake.

Yeah, I remember Halloween and the neighbors giving us bags of homemade popcorn. Wouldn't let your kidlets touch anything not prepackaged today. Could be contaminated or poisoned.

Life was more trusting, I suppose. We walked to school and the movies. We played in the parks without adult supervision. We believed in a lot of stuff, from Santa Claus to the sanctity of the local parish priest, that turned out to be fairy tales.

Like I said, for a few days I let myself feel "old."

Then I let myself think about my grandmother. She was really old, as I first remember her. She was in her 50s.

She was a widow, so she depended on my bachelor uncle to drive her to the grocery store. She didn't understand a thing about a bank account. All she knew was how to make magnificent roast beef and gravy (not to say that wasn't an achievement) and mashed potatoes.

And I realized how many more options I have.

So I pulled out my Droid and checked my e-mail, and my Google alert that told me my column just ran in the Taiwan News and on a bunch of other Internet sites.

Then I took Travis to a restaurant to order roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy.

I still have a lot to say and I've got to admit it's easier to say it today on the computer than on the old upright typewriter. "Old" is a state of mind, and I'm not traveling there again.

Write to Jane's column appears every Sunday.

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