I took my daughter to a local street blues festival yesterday and watched enthralled as an elderly man, who had to be well into his 80s, boogied down wearing the snappiest pair of shoes I’ve ever seen on a dude. He wasn’t just dancing: he was gliding, jiving, shaking it, and enticing cellphone cameras near and far out of pockets and purses. He was clearly the best dancer on the tarmac, though an elderly woman in a seafoam green ensemble wasn’t half bad. After being put together by a fellow reveler, they danced together for a short time, but she slowed him down a bit, so after a polite song or two, he sought more youthful partners.
Watching his grinning face whirl and sway in front of me lifted my spirits, which have been dampened in recent weeks. I’d been missing my youthful vim and vigor, and late nights tearing up the dance floor ’til the music stopped. My aching knees and continual fatigue have kept me from one of my favorite activities, which usually happened after 10 p.m. in boozy clubs that prevented me from sharing the fun with my daughter.
On a sun-filled day in late September, with my 11-year-old by my side, I confronted my physical woes and saw a snapshot of what I had always thought my future would be: the oldest gal still grooving. The white-haired, fleet-footed man in his dancing shoes gave me hope that I will overcome my body’s temporary slowdown and live to bop again.
Aging doesn’t have to mean the death of the things that brought us joy in our salad days. We may need to modify a bit — timing, venue, companions — but life is about modification, evolution, flexing to one’s present needs and limitations. Just because I no longer throw down at the edge of the mosh pit doesn’t mean my feet don’t jiggle when I hear a great riff. I just need to ride out the lull and perhaps find a new way to express the urge until the music stops for good, which — with any luck — will be many grooves from now.