Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ideal age?

Suzanne, Steven, and I were discussing this evening what the ideal age would be.

A child has the advantage of innocence, minimal world concerns, toys and games for play, and, perhaps, an awareness of continual growth and improvement. But, lots of negatives, too.

As a teenager I so much looked forward to age 16 when I could get a license to drive a car. Not a bad age, but also too many negatives with the teen years.

Early twenties, a full time mission under my belt, a bride, a newborn son. But college years were tough and stressful.

New college graduate, (relatively) lucrative job, beginnings of a family. Definitely a fun and rewarding age, mid-twenties. Perhaps near optimum physical body. And a sharp mind capable of learning and comprehending quickly. But in retrospect, later years were better.

I specifically remember talking to my mother when I was about 32 and remarking that this was the best period in my life. Strong, healthy, good career, wonderful young family. A definite candidate for the ideal age.

Forties weren't bad at all. Age wise it seemed like I should be starting to feel old, but health, vigor, energy, activity, mental acuity--all still very good. A notch below thirties to be sure, but offset by maturity, stability, wisdom, self confidence, financial means and security, and really interesting family activities with older children. In my case, I may have been more physically fit, due to ambitious cycling. I think forties were the best so far.

At age 50 I definitely felt like I should be feeling detrimental effects of aging. But I honestly felt like this could be the ideal time in my life, for many of the same reasons as listed above for the forties, but even more so. I was still very active physically and felt so happy and fulfilled, and excited about life. My mother warned me that after age 50, which is still a very good age, that I would definitely start experiencing a downhill trend.

Now I am 57, and my mother was right. The slow decline in mental acuity, eyesight, and physical abilities and ailments are becoming more pronounced. Though I remain very active playing tennis and riding my bike, I no longer run and my athletic skills are in decline. Still, 57 is not a bad age at all, due to further increases in all those positive attributes mentioned above.

Looking ahead, I anticipate late 50's and 60's will be more of the same trend, and these will be good years, too, with the added bonus of increased discretionary time and (hopefully) increased financial means.

I don't know, tough call. I think, in my case, I will vote for age 50. Does that surprise you? It is a good compromise of reasonable mental and physical abilities with all the bonuses of knowledge, wisdom, experience, self confidence, judgment, etc.

What do you think the optimum age is?


  1. I'm glad to read this because I've been thinking it's all downhill from 28.

    I think late teens is great but you don't appreciate what good shape you're in until it's too late.

  2. My thoughts on this change as my perspective changes over the years. I loved turning 10 and getting an Air Force ID card so I could do things on my own on base at Mountain Home, ID. For a long time I looked back on 16 as the best age because that is when I was in the best physical condition, due to being in gymnastics and dance. I could go on and on all day without resting, through school and after school rehearsals and fun time with friends afterwards, late into the evening. (And the independence of having a driver's license was cool, too!) I loved having a focus in music and great friends with mutual values. I remember at 26 feeling as though I was now no longer a child and could face the decisions of life alone if I had to, whatever would come. I had some very high-point experiences in the music side of my life through 20s, 30s, 40s. As I gained experience singing or in court reporting my experiences helped me to conquer challenging situations as they arose. Assignments at work get better as you gain seniority. In some ways it gets easier to prioritize what's important. I think there is always something that we gain that compensates for what we lose as we age. Maybe each age is the best...

  3. Sandi said it well--there is always something we gain that compensates for what we lose as we age. Even though having a younger body back might be nice, I am much happier w/ the person I am now and wouldn't want to give that up.