“You’re Older, Not Old.”

This is what my five-year-old daughter cheerfully said to me as we biked together on a quiet road on Cape Cod last week.

My initial reaction was to laugh at this comical “out of the mouths of babes” moment. Then I looked ahead of us both and watched my own mother, now well into her 70’s, also on a bike and thought the exact same thing.

Up until that day, I can’t say I had ever seen my mom on a bike. But here she was saying “yes” when I told her that the house we rented for vacation had an extra bike and asked if she would like to go along.
The science says that our desire to pursue novel experiences and take risks peaks during our adolescence.  This results from our brain both getting extra reward stimulus from “new” and less stress caused by perceived dangers.

Defying her age and accepted neuroscience, my mom hopped on the bike a second time. This time she ended up in a bush.  Nothing injured, not even her pride.  She wearily got back on her bike, undoubtedly instilling an important lesson to her three granddaughters.

The reality is that every minute, every hour, every day, we are indeed getting older.  But every choice, every decision, every response will dictate if we are getting old.

It is natural as we age to make the safe choice, decide based on tried and true, opt for preference over novelty. Years of this gets old fast – not just for us but for those around us too.

As we finished our cycling adventures on our second day, our five-year-old said “Daddy, I’m going to miss bike riding.”  I assured her we would be able to bike ride plenty of times when we returned home from vacation.  “No Daddy, I’m going to miss bike riding with Grandma Tonie.”  

It was easy to see why.

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