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Try not to act old

“Don’t Let the Old Man In” is the soundtrack to a Clint Eastwood motion picture, “The Mule.” It came out a few years ago.

Toby Keith, who wrote and performs the song in the movie, is serenading me as I write this column. His deep, gravelly voice keeps replaying the lyrics as he strums his guitar. I like it. He’s been singing to me for the last 10 minutes.

It’s happening because, prompted by a friend’s comment, I googled Clint’s name and surfaced a video clip of the movie. I was never drawn to seeing that piece of cinema when it came out — not really a Clint Eastwood fan. But now I want to — I like the premise in the song, which I will have practically memorized in another few minutes.

I’ve tried several times but cannot get the audio on my computer to stop — so I thought I would just let it repeat for a while as I continue to write. At this moment I’m hearing the words, “Ask yourself how old you would be if you didn’t know the day you were born.”

I choose “50-something.”

Not sure about the movie, but the music might be a theme song for aging well. And it also might be part of the answer to the question, “How Not to Act Old.” There’s actually a New York Times bestselling book by that name. The author is Pamela Redmond Satran. I don’t know if she sings or plays the guitar, but she definitely has a worth-considering, lighthearted take on staying young.

You ready? This could be useful for you. First, my favorite directive is about wearing a watch. It says, “A naked wrist is now as emblematic of youth as a perky butt.” Now, I’m not sure I think that’s entirely true, but I have always thought I may start wearing my watch less frequently and see what happens. I suppose I could also consider getting a tattoo on my naked wrist. But not for long.

The author has a myriad of other suggestions. She says we must not tell lengthy stories about things that happened more than eight years ago, feel compelled to send birthday and thank you cards and leave voicemail messages. Gently directive advice — with a comic’s twist.

The last point she makes is particularly interesting. The author apparently ran a test. She called people and did one of three things: She left a lengthy message explaining an issue and requesting a return call; She left a brief “call me;” and (the third and most effective way in this day of caller ID), She placed the call and then hung up. As Satran summarized it, “You make them curious and they call right back.”

Aha, perhaps that’s at the core of not getting old at all — just keep them guessing.

Or take the advice given in the still-playing song, “Stay close to your friends. Look out your window and smile. Don’t let the old man in.”

Sharon Johnson is a retired educator and the executive director of Rebuilding Together Rogue Valley. Reach her at sharon@rbtrv.org.