What I’ve learned about the aging process so far

  1. You are not brave if you go grey, you are smart. Rather than hide behind the apron of your hair colorist or the aisles of hair color in a box at the store, step boldly into the light, my aging friend, and let that silvery, opalescent, salt-and-pepper glory sparkle in the sunshine. Yes, you have to switch up or opt out of certain makeup products because they clash with silvery goodness, but that is your reward for being on this planet for a certain amount of time, not a punishment. I am reminded about a cosmetics commercial that tells me to defy my age, but I’d rather defy the notion that I have to look like I’m 20. I love 20-year-old people, but I don’t want to be stuck in some time warp and pretend to fit in.
  2. Humility is a great quality and aging teaches a good bit of that. You can think you are the fanciest, most knowledgeable, awesome person on the planet, but eventually you realize there will always be someone more superlative than you. Maybe you mask that behind braggadocio, or maybe that causes you to live in fear of being discovered for the human that you actually are. Either way, eventually you start toning that down a bit and understanding that the more you know, the more you don’t know, ya know? I may or may not be an expert in my field, but there is always, always room for improvement. The same is true for everyone, so I’m not sharing any epiphany, just a reminder.
  3. Aches and pains. I won’t bore you with the details of my age-related creaks and rust if you don’t bore me with the details of yours. Aging causes certain body systems to run less efficiently, which is why that whole eating right and exercising gig kicks us in the behind as we age. We realize it’s true with a capital T and how come I ate all those cookies instead of fruits and veggies in my wild, wild youth. We actually start paying attention to what we ingest and whether we spend time in the sun unprotected. Life is real, and the aging process is about the truest reminder that we’re mortal.
  4. We’re mortal. You aren’t likely to get bitten by a vampire or a radioactive spider (sorry), so grappling with our own mortality is a tricky prospect. I am going to avoid talking about loved ones dying, but I will tell you on any given day, someone dies, someone is born, people grieve, and people rejoice; sometimes one person goes through all these things in the same day. Just in case you haven’t already received the memo, life isn’t easy. It’s messy and complicated. What we decide to make of it is what determines who we are. There is choice in this, my friends: sometimes I live life fullest by lying down on the couch and taking a nap; sometimes I’m the one leading the charge; more often, I’m the one standing behind the scenes making sure everyone else has enough snacks and beverages.
  5. Nobody has time for hate. I realize I am posting this after the horror in Paris yesterday, and after the horror of other yesterdays before that. Aging has taught me that a) because I am mortal and b) because so is everyone else, we don’t have a whole lot of time to get messed up in hate. We’re only here for a blip of time. There’s one of me and seven-odd billion of everyone else. I don’t have time for hate, and neither does anyone else.
  6. Dance. Laugh. Make love. Sing too loud and talk too much. Stay out late or go to bed early because you can. Read a book. Write a book. Use the book as a high chair. Getting older has taught me that it is absolutely fine to be me. Maybe I could have learned that lesson in my 20s, but I doubt it.
  7. I love being my age. I am not defiant about being me, not trying to convince anyone of anything. Well, except that kindness matters. There is freedom in understanding that I messed up some choices and I made some good choices too. I hope that I’m still sassy and opinionated at 90 so I can laugh at my 51-year-old self and how silly I was. Today is full of promise and I’m glad to be here.
  8. We all matter. We spend too much time worrying about inconsequential things when we could focus on what’s actually important. What does matter? We do, no matter our age, no matter our belief set, gender, etc. We matter, and we could do well to live as such.

 

 

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