Daylight Saving Time: The Power of Growing Older

Daylight Saving Time: The Power of Growing Older

By David W. Berner (

How Old Am I Again?

Considering how to move through the time that remains.

Not long ago, a friend of mine considered the state of his aging body. 

“Now days when I drop something, I seriously consider how much I really need that thing. If it’s not that much. I don’t bother.”

He was kidding, I think. Yet, there’s a lot of truth in that statement. 

On my walk with the dog the other morning, I spotted a tree I’ve walked past many times. I think it is a kind of birch, but not certain. What I noticed this time was the bark and its myriad spots. Like age spots. The tree is big. It has been around for a long time. Not sure how long birch trees live, but this tree, birch or not, must be at least 100 years old. Many of the trees in my neighborhood are long-life trees. This one seems in the same category.

And I wondered: How much longer does that tree have? 

For the next hour of my walk, I spend a lot of time thinking about age. 

In modern terms, I’m not truly that old. At sixty-seven. I’m a baby. Sort of. But when I consider my family history, it’s a little daunting. Many died in their 70s. My father. My mother. There were a few who lived quite a long life, no matter what era you might consider. Sociologists have named them The Smashers (Michelangelo, Bach, Satchel Paige who pitched in the majors at the age of 59). The Smashers live well into their 90s. But which genes did I get? The Smasher genes or the other ones? I’m going to find out whether I want to or not. 

At the street corner on my walk, flowers have hit their spring stride. But in time, of course, the blooms will fall away—wilted, tired, at the end of their run. I took a photo with my phone, a kind of memory of youth. Are they perennials or annuals? Will they return next year? Will they keep living? I wondered what the flowers might be thinking if they could. How long do we have? What will we do with the remaining days? How can we make those days the best they can be?

And then I wondered about myself. What will I do with my remaining days of my bloom? What will I do with the next ten years, fifteen, or if I’m lucky, twenty?

There has been a great deal of discussion in the last few years about the process of growing older. Blogs, TV shows, radio interviews, and news articles have all taken on the topic. And with the ever-increasing numbers of older citizens in the world, it is no wonder the topic is an intriguing one. 

A recent article in The New Yorker made the point that no one wants to “disparage old age” anymore when the truth is old age for many of us can be rough. From the annoying—bladders emptying often, hair in the ears—to more serious problems like dementia. The reality is that growing old is not always about “flourishing.” Many times, it’s like the flowers. It’s about withering.

Halfway through my walk, I shook off that thought and considered my options. I could simply say, “the hell with it” and dismiss what might happen in the coming years, or I could be more proactive and consider what I might do with the time I have left. Complaining about an elbow pain or forgotten thought is pointless. It’s also unbecoming. No one wants a cranky old guy walking the neighborhood. 

What I could do instead?  I could simply make peace with aging. 

Many of us consider our aging lives with a level of contentment. If my kids are happy, I’m reasonably healthy, financially okay, and satisfied with most of my “accomplishments,” then that is all I need. Well, it may be true that with old age comes some level of no longer having to prove yourself. Still, it may not be enough to keep the soul invigorated or enough to sustain a positive approach through our final years. Montaigne said, in old age, “our desires incessantly grow young again. We are always re-beginning to live.” This is not to say that simply advocating a “positive” attitude will mean that everything will be okay. Instead, the key, it seems to me, is to keep on living just as you hopefully have most of your life—loving, learning, moving, thinking, reading, singing, dancing. If you haven’t been doing at least a couple of those, then it’s time to start. You’ll perform them with less prowess than before—slower, and awkwardly—but the only alternative is to not do any of this. That’s not a good option. You should only stop when you’re dead.

After circling the park and taking the road back home, I wondered aloud, “What can I do with these last years that will fuel my spirit, my emotions, my head and heart, my aging bones?” I didn’t have the definitive answers to those questions. But I did have some pretty good ideas and I believed there were infinite possibilities.

Here’s what I know.

At sixty-seven, I don’t feel as physically good as I did at fifty, and I’m pretty sure I won’t feel all that great at eighty-two, if I make it. But I walk most days—a golf course or around the block—I try to eat reasonably well, and I’m an outside kind of guy. I get my vitamin D. Despite what the calendar says, in my mind I’m somewhere around forty years of age, and that’s a good age to keep on going, to make changes that stick, to refuel the soul, to keep the body working. So, I’m going with the age my mind believes I am, not necessarily what my body tells me.

At the walkway in front of my house, I stopped for a moment to look at the beautiful garden my wife has created in our yard. There were flowers there intensely showing their seasonal colors. That gave me hope that my own life’s bloom was still hanging on.

As the dog and I took the driveway to the backyard, I accidentally dropped her leash.

“Do I really need that?” I asked myself, thinking of my friend’s comment. 

I bent down for it, grabbed it, and watched the dog run to the back gate. I was home. She was home. And tomorrow we have plans to give it another go.


In this meditative and intimate personal narrative on the act of aging, David W. Berner discovers how to accept and revel in the present, when the days that remain are fewer than those that have passed, and offers a path for celebrating life’s final chapters.

Through the lessons of seasonal change, the natural world, literature, and spirituality, Berner gives us a kind of instruction book on the art of growing older, challenging us to accept aging’s transformative powers. As a keen observer of the world, he forms a guiding philosophy on how to discover joy in the time we have left and nourishment in life’s remaining seasons.

Daylight Saving Time: The Power of Growing Older by David W. Berner is available from and from wherever books are sold.