Age has its benefits.Among those benefits is the freedom that comes from knowing that you have developed skills sufficiently that you don't have to stop and analyze every move you make. You know how to put together a wardrobe that suits your body type and personality. You probably know how to ride a bike and iron a shirt. You may know how to make the best ever Italian spaghetti sauce and how to use your local library and your computer. You know how to interact with other people. You know how to think for yourself.

But wait…

Don't get too comfortable. The world is constantly changing. And the media is here to tell us that we have to adapt and change if you want to keep up with the world you live in. The common wisdom seems to be that your worth is predicated on your ability to compete and outshine everyone else, to sell more stuff and to fit the current mold and to spend more money..

Fashions change every year – nope, every season. Through the years, men's ties and suit collars change as frequently as women's hairdos and the length of their skirts. When we were young we paid great attention to what we wore because we were so desperate to be accepted. And we bought into the belief that how we dressed determined our status in life. We knew that within 10 seconds others were judging our worth by what we were wearing that day. There was a time, would you believe, that women wore hats and gloves when going out in public, to work or even shopping. Today everyone, man and women alike, feel quite comfortable wearing jeans and tee shirts to work, even in offices in downtown Chicago. 

You may not have to learn again how to ride a bike. but if you drive a car, you know the challenges of keeping up with the law. Back when, the speed limit on freeways was 50 mph and 5 miles above that got you a ticket. Then the speed limit was raised to 70 mph…only to be reduced again to 60 mph (never mind that if you keep to that limit you're going to be run over by drivers who have little concern for limits. Engineers designed right turn lanes to facilitate moving turning right – when traffic allowed – even when the light was red. And then they put up signs that restricted those turns so that you must wait for a green light…and, then, later installed cameras that would record violations. (A word to the wise, you can be certain you'll receive a ticket in the mail if you aren't very, very careful.).

Even meeting people has changed. Remember the days when you met people at community and church events, shopping, disco clubs? Remember when everyone was expected to follow basic etiquette when in the presence of others? Well, that's no longer true. Today, all you need to meet new people is a computer or iPad. You don't need to dress up for the occasion, and you can spin any yarn you choose because the person on the other side isn't necessarily ever going to meet you in person. The world is so small now that anyone can meet countless others online. You can meet a new person every day of the week and, because your choices are endless, you don't even have to try to be nice to that person when you do finally meet them.

The world has grown very small indeed. At times it seems like it is closing in on us, dictating our every move. At other times it seems like we might as well be on a deserted island because we just don't seem to have a firm handle on what it means to be a productive individual in 2012.

But when you reach "a certain age" you realize that life is a moving target. People are people. Everyone has different beliefs and expectations. And that's absolutely OK. You reach a point where you know that the only life you're responsible for living is your own.

The best part of growing older, though, is that you can choose for yourself how you're going to live your life. Of course, You can't break laws. If the traffic laws change, ignorance isn't going to save you from tickets and hefty fees for violating them. But, finally, you come to a place where you realize that you can choose the people you will allow into your life and what behavior you are willing to tolerate. You finally realize that it's OK if others don't agree with you or live by your standards. You can choose to learn from them or to walk away. You can give them space to be all they can be but you don't have to buy into their standards and belief systems.

Age definitely brings with it wonderful benefits that youth can't even imagine. You finally realize that you don't need to control anyone else and you don't need to prove yourself or justify your decisions.You discover that it's OK if others don't agree with you and that you don't have to explain to others the choices you make.You learn, once and for all, that you don't have to compete with anyone and that it's fun to interact with others who share your values.

As you age, you realize as never before, that life is a learning process. You thrive on what you can learn and experience. You discover that the more you know, the more you you have to learn. Every day becomes a new blessing. You discover that trends change at an ever increasing rate. But, you also see that with all the ebb and flow of politics, religion, etiquette, and behavioral norms, some things are constant. And, finally, you achieve the freedom to choose between what's important and what isn't.

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