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By Pam Burke 

It's a mindset thing


I have outdone myself this week and turned from being simply old to being old-old.

Birthdays come and go and we get older with more or less grace and certainly without any effort on our part because aging is just a byproduct of breathing.

We have an endless supply of truisms about age, aging and being old: “Age is relative” — because a 5-year-old thinks a 20-year-old is old, the 20-year-old thinks 40 is old and the 40-year-old thinks 80 is old.

“Aging is alright; it’s the alternative that really sucks” — because if you’re not aging you’re dead, right.

And then there’s “You’re only as old as you feel” — that right there is the real rub for me this week.

When I’ve called myself old, thus far, it has been to comment on my physical signs of aging, the creaky joints, the injuries coming back to haunt me, the graying and the increase in wrinkles, or to acknowledge that to an increasing number of people I am older or even relatively old.

But then came the tortoise.

A 17-year-old tortoise named Spike escaped from his yard in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, and was found two hours later and returned home by the local animal control. Station KOAT Channel 7 in Albuquerque reported on their website, koat.com, that Spike made a tortoise-paced run for it after workers left his yard gate open.

His mad-dash getaway had gotten him a half-mile in two hours.

Maybe that didn’t strike you as funny, but I found it hilarious to imagine Spike putting everything he had into this prison break, the fierce wind of his passing raising a trail of ten dust motes and causing a downy feather on the ground to quiver … slightly.

My brain built this entire scenario of an animal control officer like Tim Conway’s shuffling, slow-paced, senile Old Man character from “The Carol Burnett Show” taking the entire two hours to “chase down” Spike, eventually only capturing him by causing a four-car pileup on the road that inadvertently corralled the two among flipped-over vehicles.

Then I realized that no one younger than about 45 would know what I was talking about. No matter the 20-some Emmy awards and inclusion in countless lists of best television ever, “The Carol Burnett Show” was old-time TV stuff and any possible younger readers here would not know what I was writing about.

At this point, I started researching for a reference that the young folk could relate to, but that search ended at the very moment I instantaneously turned old-old.

Just like that. But don't blame the tortoise.

There I was, my usual ol’ relatively old self and then like someone popped a bubble or let loose a magic potion or flipped an electroshock therapy switch, Bam! I became old-old.

I wasn't even startled.

I simply thought, for the first time ever, "I don’t care what the young people can relate to. Their stuff can't be as good as ‘The Carol Burnett Show.’”

And I quit searching, settled into my chair and searched out a segment of Tim Conway's Old Man on YouTube, then spent 15 minutes at my computer laughing at Harvey Corman laughing at Tim Conway.

I may even buy a rocking chair and start talking about the good ol' days when I had it so much harder because I didn't have my own car to get me to school. I had to beg my parents to drive me there every day, uphill both ways.

(It's tortoises all the way down at pam@viewfromthenorth40.com.)


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