Picture of Dr. Linda Algazi, Ph.D

I was at the senior center, about to start a zumba dancing class and I had palpitations in the parking lot.

The last time I had taken a dancing class, I cried… I was five years old and I made my mother promise me that I would never have to go back.

The idea of dancing was not the cause of the palpitations, however.

Somehow, I had reached an age where walking into a senior center was not unreasonable. Just so you understand, I freaked at the notion of “belonging” in a place like this, but not enough to give up on my resolution.

I have now become an official “zumba lady,” as the curious, smiling people walking by, call us.

As a teenager, I lied about my age, to get a job as a camp counselor. In my twenties, I tried to look ahead to what those a decade older than I, did to keep life interesting. In my thirties, I decided that people in their forties and fifties had to do things in order to look good. Some of them had managed and I wanted to be like them.

Not that I lusted for Jane Fonda’s body. I was already old enough to know I wouldn’t want the responsibility of having to maintain it. My new found maturity allowed me to be a bit more realistic.

By the time I was fifty, I understand the value of a sense of humor and and of maintaining a child-like curiosity about the things which interested me. My mother taught me, by example, to learn and to pursue new goals as a life-long quest. Thank you mom. I’ve tried to listen.

So, I’m dancing… completing my education and having a wonderful time.

You know what I’ve learned from hanging around a senior center? I’ve learned to be inspired, again, by those people a decade or two ahead of me… the same people I looked up to, twenty years ago. They got older too. The lucky ones, anyway.

There are talented artists and musicians among them. The gym is loaded with brave souls who have not given up on themselves. The gardeners share their vegetables and good stories.

In my early twenties, I did an internship in a community center. On one fortuitous day I came upon an old man, outside, on the steps of the center. He was precisely tearing up a newspaper, looking pleased with himself. I stopped to watch. That man exuded the kind of energy and passion, I still look for in my friends. Suddenly there appeared a string of paper dolls.

As you may imagine, I was charmed. I asked if he would demonstrate his skill to the group of children in my charge, that afternoon. “Grandpa John” was adopted by our group. He came to all our meetings from then on. The children, Grandpa John and I all learned from each other.

Certain kinds of energy and curiosity continue to defy age.

I hope you’re inspired.

(PS I hope you guys know that I love that you read this stuff!)

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