Posted by: Deborah Drezon Carroll | May 23, 2011

If Dylan is 70, Am I Old?

Ah, But I Was So Much Older Then, I’m Younger Than That Now…

That’s the chorus of Bob Dylan’s “My Back Pages.” It’s one of my favorite Dylan pieces, as I get lost in the lyrics. It’s a phenomenal poem, but it’s that refrain, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now,” that is on my mind as Dylan turns 70. In 1971, on my college dorm room wall, I hung a Peanuts comic about Dylan as he turned 30 that year. Linus tells Charlie Brown that Dylan is turning 30 and he replies, “That’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard.” It didn’t depress me. I figured if Dylan was that old (YIKES 30!) and was still so cool and gifted, there was hope for all of us. Listening to Dylan lyrics transported me to a world where I felt older, more sophisticated, and connected with a world larger than myself. I still listen to the lyrics, but now they make me feel younger, more sophisticated, and connected with a world larger than myself.

Oh, the memories this comic brings to mind. Sigh.

Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now. I am in some ways, younger than that now because I work at it. As Dylan turns 70, I am thinking about what the number means; what age means. When I was 19 in 1971, I feared old age. I was afraid it would stop me from being the person I wanted to be — vital and engaged. With age came the wisdom to know that’s becoming less vital is not a given. If I continue to fight aging, I don’t have to fear it. I’m not talking about keeping a youthful appearance, although I try to do that too, within reason. (I keep my hair long but I’ve given up mini skirts, alas.) I’m talking about keeping a youthful exuberance. I started running in my 20s to stay vital. I gave it up in my 40s and came back to it in my 50s. It’s part of my anti-aging plan. I try to keep up with technology. I made myself get a Smartphone so that the world wouldn’t move on too fast leaving me in its wake. I eat healthfully because I believe that food fights pain and deterioration of the body. I listen to the music of today’s artists so that I can have some sense of current popular culture. And I do things that occupy my time and keep my brain alive like writing this blog and reading great books. Plus, I try to volunteer my time to causes that I feel passionate about so that passion continues to fuel my heart and soul, despite my age.

All of these things help me be younger now than I was then, in my back pages. The mind is a powerful anti-aging tool. But it takes work. I think that parents set the stage for their children in this realm. If we want our children to age gracefully without fear then we have to show them the way. I’ve tried never to tell my daughters that I couldn’t do something because I was too old. I try not to use age as an excuse. It was a plan I began way back in my 20s. So, I ask you, what do you do to stay young? How will you be younger in the future than you are now? What will keep you vital? And are you afraid of growing older? Why and what can you do to allay that fear?

Tamra Writes:


I got carded at a PG-13 movie when I was 23 years old, so obviously it’s working. I hate getting older. I lie about how old I am, and act like I’m 12 so no one will know how old I am. I think being around kids at work helps me stay young, because we’re expected to be excited about little things and be creative – which is good for keeping you young. I go running and try to eat healthy, although I don’t think I do that to stay young as much as I do it to stay healthy and to fit into my nice jeans. I don’t know how you get youngish people to not be afraid of getting old. I think there are a lot of things that people expect from you when you are older, and it’s a lot of pressure. What if you don’t have the perfect job, amount of money, social life, or living situation by a certain time? I guess times are changing (Note the Dylan pun) and those milestones don’t have to happen at a specific time any more, but a lot of young people still go by them, and that can be intimidating. Perhaps we need to remind young people that everything happens for everyone at different times, and it doesn’t matter how old you are (or in my case, how young).

Other ways to stay or feel young: laughing, letting yourself have a good time, trying new things, and if that doesn’t work, just go to a bar where everyone is older than you.

As far as I’m concerned, I turned 21 eight times, and each time was better than the time before, so I guess I am getting younger than I used to be.

Shira writes:

I’d rather live in the present than worry about being older. Yes, I try to eat healthy most of the time and am desperately trying to find an exercise routine that I have the motivation to keep up with, but I have more important things to think about than getting older. My feeling about it is, if you live a life that makes you happy, then it doesn’t matter how old you are. There are certain things that I know will make me happy in the present, and those are the things I try to focus on.

My friendships are very important to me. I grew into adulthood before I learned how to really maintain friends, and I’ve also learned how to distinguish the good ones from the ones that aren’t worth my time. Spending time with people that I have a good time with definitely makes me feel younger. Trying new things absolutely helps keep you young. Whether it’s retrying a food I thought I hated (turns out mushrooms aren’t so bad), or going to a new place, (Hello, New Orleans!), new experiences keep life interesting.

I haven’t gotten carded at quite as many PG 13 movies as Tamra has, but there have been many casual Fridays where I was mistaken for an 8th grader at work, so maybe I’ve got some idea of how to keep myself young.

Alexis Writes:

Are you sure he wasn’t being sarcastic?

Because I think he might have been. Perhaps he even meant that it takes being older to appreciate being younger. I know there are times where I yearn for the days when having my favorite dessert made my day and my biggest worry was if the boy I liked “like liked me.” So I think maybe we should consider that Dylan had an ironic tone.

As far as staying young I think the thing about it is that because you’re young, everything is new. You are filled with so much anticipation because you’re just learning about the world and how it relates to you. Now that I’m in the thirties I think about growing old a lot and it scares me. I exercise and moisturize for maintenance, yes wrinkles and cellulite offend me and I am trying to combat the inevitable. I think the thing about being young and not knowing anything is that you’re excited for what might await you and as you get older it seems like most surprises are stressful.

I try to do new things and I try to be open to people. This is not easy, we all like things we are comfortable with. I’ve tried new activities, new friends and even new responsibilities at work just to keep the anticipation going and to get things to be excited about. I think it’s easy to fall into a rut so I try to be conscious of that. I think the way to stay young is to do things that make you happy, which usually means doing a little self discovery.

Check in with me at age 31 and see if my thoughts have changed. I’ll be the only one at Happy Hour getting carded.

Embroidered with Dylan lyrics in 1970. Yes, I kept them and yes, they fit.



  1. I am now looking at retiring for the second time, so I am getting prepared for the next stage in life, and, yes, it does bother me a little. I try not to think about it, but remind myself that now I will be able to spend more time with my grandchildren and will actually feel like running and playing with them. I try to eat right and exercise, and my bill at the Clinique counter for anti-aging stuff is outrageous! I also remind myself to be fortunate for the time I’ve had on this Earth because so many people don’t make it to be 60 and healthy. (Those jeans are groovy, baby!)

  2. You made me smile on so many levels! So true about Clinique. Should have bought stock and we’d all be rich today! You’re so right about being grateful that we’ve lived this long. It sure does beat the alternative. šŸ™‚

  3. Love the jeans Debbi! All the comments are so true…I love the one about living in the present and being grateful for each day that we have. I think as we age, we go through different stages of how we feel about getting older, sometimes we long for being older – (my 9 year old daughter wanting to be a 25 year old woman!) and sometimes we feel that we’re running out of time – (my 24 year old son saying he’s “ALMOST 25” so he has to get things done!) But I remember thinking about turning 40- 7 years ago and having this amazing feeling that this was the best, most happiest time of my life…that things just kept getting better and I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing, and feeling so full of life! I still feel that way, now that I’m almost 47, although that is NOT OLD!!! I don’t even think of my parents as old even though they are 83 and 84…it’s all in how we look at life, and what we make of it. My mantra is to take one day at a time and cherish every single moment!!!! Life is WONDERFUL!!!!!

  4. True about cherishing the moments, that’s for sure. Whatever age we are, each moment in time won’t come again so it needs to be honored, right? And, you’re right about something else too — life is wonderful. And when it isn’t, that moment will pass and be replaced by a new and perhaps better one. I am grateful and I hope I’ve taught my daughters at least that. And, hey, thanks, I love those jeans, too. They’re the only item I still have from college. Well, those and my husband. He’s aged well and also still fits!

    • Great! That you still have your hubby and that you’ve BOTH aged so well. Your daughters are AMAZING!!!

      My other mantra, when things are NOT going so well…This too shall pass!

  5. That’s all the proof you needed: you still fit in your jeans from college. Way to go girl! Here’s to another 40 years of getting a whole lot younger. xxxx

    • Yeah, fitting into the college jeans would be good but remember the “freshman 15”? I definitely had them and perhaps a couple of their friends. But, still, I must admit, zipping those up did feel pretty good. But I’m with you on the 40 years of getting younger… at heart anyway.

  6. This is gorgeous and I love all your takes on it. To have all this love in your family with your girls. Wow. Bob Dylan – love him. I have not had issues with aging yet (well, some gripes here and there, but nothing major). So far, I have found that the lessons learned and insight that comes with getting older have been worth it.

  7. The lessons learned do make up for a few wrinkles and aches and pains, for sure. It’s a terrific attitude you have. That will help a lot. A good ‘tude can work a few miracles!

  8. […] If Dylan is 70, Am I Old? ( […]

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