Aging Hippy by an . . . aging hippy

I went to the Vancouver Folk Music Festival this weekend.

I hadn’t been for a few years and it struck me how the audience has aged (except for me of course). The women’s dancing arms were more wrinkled, the men found it harder to get in and out of those low festival chairs, there was a sea of silver hair. The Folk Festival used to let seniors in for free but they had to stop doing that a few years ago or they would have gone bankrupt. It is strange to be aging alongside my cohort of baby boomers.

About twelve years ago, I spent a great deal of time driving my dear, slightly-demented, mother around. There were two comments she often made, forgetting the answers each time. One was, “What is the principal industry of this town?” The other was, “Why are there so many gray haired people these days?” That was us, the baby boomers, and I think then I tried to answer that the principal industry was information (it was Vancouver) and now of course I would answer real estate.

I have a summer pastime I share with my sisters. We “swim our age.” That is, each late afternoon in the summer we swim out into the Salish Sea the same number of strokes as our ages. Then I personally paddle slowly back to shore. I think my sibs might have other routines it’s not a strict sport. It’s wonderful. Lately I’ve been wondering if there will come a time when I will start swimming my age backwards. I’m sixty-nine now – my sisters are younger – so I’ll probably be the first to have to figure this out.

I remember a couple of years ago, I was walking on the rooty trails in Cliff Gilker Park thinking lovely thoughts about how fit I am and wondering whether I would still be able to do this in ten years. A few minutes later, bang, I was down, tripped on a root. A good fall or a stubbed toe seems to be a great antidote to inflated thinking. I guess the lesson is two-fold: Yes I am aging, accept it, and just be in this lovely moment, swimming, or walking, or dancing to music.


  1. I too lived in Vancouver in the 70’s.I am still trying to realize all the good things that I was exposed to at that time.It’ a great life. By the way ,”Keep Writing”or as I believe “when you have experienced enough”,Tell your story.” Then experience some more. Tom martin

  2. A very good reminder that we’re well past our ‘best before dates,’ at least, I am. Some things do not rot, sour or become mouldy, maybe we can be one of those. Still useful even though not the newest, freshest or best. When I am no longer useful there is no point in shoving me to the back of the shelf because it’s too hard to dispose of me. I never want to just be taking up space like some old nicknack on a dusty shelf, in the way but kept and dusted for some forgotten reason.
    Live things die, that is all.
    Big trees stand and big trees fall.
    We are no longer in our prime.
    Soon we’ll know when it is time.
    But until then, get up and smile be thankful for the sun.
    Get busy, do and be your best, get all those projects done.
    For now we’ll just forget the date, get on with life each day.
    And when it’s time there will be no doubt – we’ll simply fly away.

  3. My grandchild recently went for a swim-she swam ten strokes. She is ten. She said, “I swam my age.” Hardly fair, but it did make me smile.

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