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Ageism: A Poem

Over the summer, I read Ashton Applewhite's book "This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism" and it rocked my world (pun intended). I've been thinking about ageism pretty much nonstop since then (just ask my poor husband, I talk about it all the time) and as I recently had a birthday myself, felt inspired to write a little ode to ageism. Enjoy!


In this big beautiful world, there are people of all types;

Each human is unique, like fingerprints or tiger stripes.

We all have different qualities that make us who we are,

Like our love of doodle dogs or rocking out on air guitar;

People may try to define you based on what the eye can see,

Like the color of your skin (or if that skin seems wrinkly).

We think we always know what someone can do, be, or make

simply based on the number of candles on their birthday cake.

We split people in two groups, like bad and good: "old" and "young"

But don't we know there's more than that, a whole spectrum that makes life fun?

Like most things on this planet, age isn't black and white –

And just because someone's older doesn't mean they've lost their light.

We know it's wrong to judge our neighbors on ability, love, religion…

but we still make assumptions about "old folks" (admit it — just a smidgen?)

We must try to remember: no one group of people is the same,

Not all kids like hide-and-seek, not all parents play board games.

Not all teachers like red apples, not all babies like to crawl;

not all librarians are quiet, not all cowboys have a drawl!

Just like those diverse groups, not all older folks are copies;

Some like taking long hikes, some like drinking cold iced coffees.

Some are active, some are smart, some have a flair for the dramatic;

Some still hop up on that ladder to get things down from the attic.

Science shows that as we age, we differ from each other more —

All those years of experience making us distinctive to our core.

When someone feels tip-top, they say "It's like I'm young again!"

Where did we get that "young" is "best"? Those aren't synonyms!

You can be wise at 9 or 90; or at any age have bad joints,

But that's not because how old you are. That's really not the point!

If grandma's arm hurts after treating Fido to a game of fetch,

it's not because she's "old" – it's because she didn't stretch!

And when Papa tells a joke so bad it makes your eyes roll back,

it's not 'cause he's 100, his humor's always been like that!

And youngers and olders can do lots of things together,

We can't guess what someone enjoys, like we can't predict the weather.

Just 'cause someone has gray hair doesn't mean they can't still boogie,

or ride a bike or watch scary movies or wear an oversize hoodie.

So next time you're tempted to make a judgment based on age,

Tell your brain: bust out of that outdated mental cage!

Personality and abilities aren't because of the year you're born,

And every added birthday candle is something to celebrate, not mourn.

There's no reason to cringe when you see the party hat —

Each trip around the sun's a gift; you're perfect, that's a fact.

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