Act Your Age!

My Mother Glared At Me In The Toy Store Aisle

I was seven years old, in a local toy store here in Brewer, Maine, where I grew up. My Mother was shopping for a birthday present for my younger brother. I was so jealous! Here were the latest toys – Lionel Train Sets, GI Joe figures, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, Cap Guns, a new Bike! I began to whine a bit. I kept touching toys – trying to slip one into my Mom’s shopping cart. Finally she had had enough! “Act your age young man, or else we’ll go home and you’ll go right to your room understand?”  I remember thinking at the time “but how am I SUPPOSED to act? I mean, I AM seven and I WANT those toys!”

Act Your Age, Not Your I.Q.!

My teen age friends were ruthless. We were in an intense game of football, in the field behind my house. It was getting dark. I could barely see the ball. Our four man team huddled and got instructions from Tim, my friend from down the street. He was the Quarterback. “Tom, go way out to the right, by that tree, and then cut back in. Don’t mess this up or you’re in trouble“.  Tim’s older brother was sixteen years old, and playing quarterback on the other team, and they had a bet – whoever lost the game had to take out the trash at home for a month! This was big!

“Hut hut” and we were off! At the same time, my Mom shouted from our back porch in the darkness “Tom, time to come in, Tom, are you out there? Game over, come home!”  I was running my route, just as ordered. I got to the tree, then smartly turned and cut back in. And tripped. I mean fell down, HARD. Face plant. It hurt. The ball sailed past me. We lost.

Tim and my other team mates came over as I was slowly getting up. I was in tears. It HURT! But instead of sympathy, these guys were upset. “What happened?” they asked angrily. I sobbed, “I tripped, I’m sorry.”

Aww, quit cryin’, act your age not your IQ.” (Author’s note – I was tested in 6th grade and had the highest I.Q. in my school. Brag over.) But I didn’t know that back then, so I didn’t really get the insult. I just assumed it was bad because of the tone of his voice.

Act Your Age – You’re A Man Now

I was barely in my twenties, and in college , when my son was born. Working two jobs, playing in a band, and now – a son. My father Louis put his hand on my shoulder, and said “well, your wild and crazy youth is over. Time to grow up, you have a lot of responsibility now.

I had no idea what to do! Was I ready for this? Well, life is funny  - I had no choice. With little or no sleep many weeks, I went college classes, then off to two jobs in the afternoon and evening. Days blended into each other, weeks into months. Son my son was growing, and so was I. I was growing into the demands of fatherhood and got my degree, all while working very hard.

Act Your Age – You’re A Business Owner

I was twenty-six years old, when I started my portrait and wedding photography business.  I didn’t really know what I was doing! I took “good” photographs, but really had no idea what to do to acquire clients, maintain healthy sales and profits, and create repeat business. I didn’t yet even know what I didn’t know! But the bills piled up, my son needed sneakers and I needed to support a family. I went to see a panel of retired business people, in a group called S.C.O.R.E., Service Core Of Retired Executives. They were a non-profit group designed to volunteer and help young business owners with challenges.

They asked me for a business plan. I had nothing! (I didn’t know what it was!) A very successful but gruff 75 year old former company executive leaned over, looked me in the eyes and said  ”You want to be a business owner? You sure don’t seem like one! Time to act your age, young man and get serious about business, or you’ll be done before you start!

Happy Birthday Tom, Now – Act Your Age, Will Ya?

I had a birthday recently. I always am happy to be around for another year! I look forward, hopefully, to many more!  Now, I feel great, am told I look younger than I am. I play in a band, I have a very busy portrait studio, and a twelve year old daughter and a wife twelve years my junior! I am VERY busy, and happy with my work and play. But some well meaning friends and family told me “look, you’re getting older, maybe you should slow down, you know, act your age.

So it got me thinking – how DOES any age act?  I mean, is there a handbook on “this is how one acts at this particular age”.  And if so – I’m not cooperating!

Now I do have friends my age who walk slower, sleep more, “take it easy” more often, and generally seemed to have adopted “I am old and should act my age.” I guess I am not ready for this thinking. I have so much more to accomplish. When I turned fifty several years back, I was told “you’re on the downhill slide now”!

I have done more, had more fun, made more money and enjoyed more success personally and financially than any other decade in my life, during my fifties! So much for THAT warning!

What Is YOUR Age?

Your “mental age” I mean. We have no control over time. It grinds on, and we age. But mentally, we can seemingly chose how to feel about aging. Having things to look forward to, a job or hobby you love, friends and family to enjoy, trips to take – a reason to get up and get going every day! So how do YOU feel? Is your thinking tired, or refreshed?

Part of the way I keep myself younger “thinking” is by working forty hours a week or so in my portrait and wedding business, then taking time off, taking vacations, short trips, and having several non-photographic hobbies. I hope YOU are trying to design your life this way as well. Having fun and exciting things to look forward to maintain one’s younger thinking! It also will keep your business strong and fresh!

So, Tom, What IS Your Age!

Let’s see, what day is it? Am I shopping for presents for my family and admiring all the cool toys in the store? I’m seven years! OR – am I playing ball with my children or grandchildren? I’m a teen again! Maybe I am learning or teaching professional photography marketing and portrait techniques and growing my business?  I’m in my twenties again! Or is it time for another birthday? I am STILL, in my mind, ten years younger! So I guess I bounce around! I do not even really think about it very often.

My age? Whatever I feel it is! Am I’m OK with that…..   ARE YOU?

Thomas Morelli






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