Wisdom for the ages … or the aging.

“You can get away with a lot more if you just don’t ask.”

This was one of the first bits of wisdom my older sister taught me when we were growing up. I don’t remember the circumstances. But I do remember the enlightenment.

That philosophy served me well over my growing-up years. Particularly the teen ones. It wasn’t that I deliberately broke any rules. I just didn’t ask if there was a rule, or if I had permission. Often there was, and I didn’t. But, by then, the fun had been had and there was no taking back the moment. And the moment could also be nicely savored later while being grounded in one’s room.

Oddly, I am finding this philosophy increasingly beneficial again now as I age.

It came to mind recently when I began taking yoga classes. A wonderful instructor, named Dana Rideout, gently leads us newbys through the most basic moves. It wasn’t until later that I found out if you have spinal stenosis (as I do) and osteoporosis (as I do) that yoga really might need to be avoided – unless it is tailored to your physical needs (which, thankfully, Dana does). But, until I “asked,” I was enjoying it ever so much more. Now that I know, I wonder if I will be as uninhibited with my approach. (And, what is yoga, after all, if not being unabashedly uninhibited – flailing arms, upended bum, wobbling balance and all?)

Somewhat along those same lines, I’ve been doing strengthening exercises at a local gym for the past couple of years. I find something rather “elegant” about strength training. And it makes me feel incredibly fit. But my honest-to-goodness main goal for doing this is that I want to be able to enjoy the “trapeze experience” one day – offered to the general public at various sites around the country. And I think I will need to be good and strong before I attempt it (although they do have nets).

Admittedly, I am afraid of heights. And, yes, I have potentially “snappy” bones and a bad back. But there it is – a goal that keeps me working out on a regular basis with a happy heart and a secret smile.

Now, however, my sister’s advice is coming back to me again. Perhaps I should not “ask” if I will even be allowed by the trapeze folks to so much as climb their ladder. As I envision it in my head of course, I am brilliant as I swing out, let myself fly free into the air and then into the waiting clasp of the professional catcher; perhaps another swing or two and then I float gracefully down into the net below.

None of us wants to be told that we have to remain behind and hold the purses at any stage of our lives. But perhaps as we age, we resent it even more than when we are young.

And so, I suspect it is some sense of rebellion or ignorance or innocence or inherent spirit – or some long-ago wisdom – that somehow comes upon us at just the right time. And we do write that book, or paint the picture, or take the part in the play. We travel the dream. We adopt the puppy. We fall in love. Perhaps we even feel the air rush past us high above the net. Because, thankfully, someone once taught us: “just don’t ask.”