Viewer alert: In writing these blogs, I try to base them on solidly researched current knowledge, even though my writing style is casual and the images whimsical. This piece is purely an opinion piece based on a mix of my experiences and pondering upon them. Some of it will be scientifically sound, some may not. So it’s buyer beware.
Over the years I’ve tended to use the words old and aged interchangeably. But that’s been changing for me. I’m sensing important differences. Look at the difference in synonyms the computer offers for each of them:
Old: ancient, long-lived, geriatric. long-standing,
Aged: seasoned, experienced, weathered, matured, mellowed, in full bloom, venerable
Both of them are accurate definitions, but there are qualitative differences. There’s no question that I’m old. (I’m surprised to find I’ve lived over 100 years. That just happened with no goal or effort on my part.) Aged, on the other hand seems a mix of happenstance and something more, something I would have to work for.
I’m discovering that being old is fine with me. But I’m also sensing that I want to try to be aged while I’m at it. (I’m now pronouncing it as 2 syllables age-ed.
The age-related terms can be applied to humans and animals, but they can also be applied to other living things or substances (think of trees, structures, art, musical instruments, and types of food e.g. cheeses, wines.
Wines and cheeses offer familiar substances where old and aged are distinctly different. Some kinds of young cheeses can become hard, dry, moldy and inedible. Others are created and maintained under controlled conditions which yield a product whose flavor is richer, and deeper and one that becomes more and more expensive
The same is true of wines. Some “young” wines are tasty and satisfying, but may change color, turn musky or vinegarish in a short time. Others, properly aged and maintained, become better and better as well as pricier
Some string instruments that were created by remarkably talented luthiers like Stradivari, Amati, Guarnari and others are valued as soon as they are completed. But carefully maintained they’ve grown in value.
And, played by talented musicians over the centuries, the hours of gorgeous sounds that have been produced on them seem to become ingrained. The result is an even deeper richer tone quality. They become true treasures.
Throughout our lives we’ve seen, encountered, often lived closely with fellow human beings who’ve survived into their late years. Some who seem to have been quite advantaged even into their later years, dry up, or become dour or vinegary, self-centered, unhappy; others, even with incredible hardships, become vibrant, treasures. We enjoy and grow being around them.
Our minds and bodies are our own instruments. Is it possible for us to care for them, use them well as we engage with our them during life experiences? In our later years can we then bloom, become richer, deeper, more mellow?