Monday, December 19, 2011

To Age Gracefully - Or Not?

I recently read an article that was something of an ode to the woman over forty. Being an over-forty woman myself I enjoyed it. It was humorous and insightful and it gave me a good laugh. I've been thinking about age ever since, both what it is, and what it isn't.

Fortunately for me, I come from a long line of people who have aged well. Both of my grandparents lived into their nineties and for most of that time, were young at heart. Neither of them ever acted - or even seemed to notice - their actual ages.They were too busy, living life.

My grandparents, not acting their age in the photo booth

Both of my parents are very young for their age, too. They take good care of themselves through regular medical care, a balanced diet and exercise. Both of them could easily pass for being at least ten years younger than they are. They always have a plan, a project, a dream - something that keeps them believing that the best is yet to come. I suspect that this, more than anything, is the secret to eternal youth.

My ever-youthful mom, in Flagler Beach, Florida

I wish I had learned some of their lessons a little earlier on.

When I turned eighteen I remember expecting to feel "grown up" and being disappointed.

My eighteen year old self, waiting to feel "grown up"

When I turned thirty I recall realizing that I had life experience now and I knew a lot of stuff. That was kind of cool, but I still didn't feel "grown up."

Me (a.k.a. Robin) at twenty-nine with my little Batman <3

When I was about to turn forty for some reason I really dreaded it. I expected the minute I did, I would start to feel old. Then forty came and went and I didn't feel any different.

Me again, contemplating the big 40

In 2012 (presuming the world doesn't end, as my son reminds me) I will turn 45. It took me twenty-five years, but I finally "get it"; There is no magical age when you suddenly achieve perfect happiness or have things all figured out. As I type this, in fact, I am even more broke than I was at twenty. A lot of what I thought I knew at thirty turned out to be dead wrong. And, since turning forty, the battle of the bulge has evolved into a full-scale war.

My life may be far from perfect, but I have realized that no matter how many yesterdays we've accrued, or how many tomorrows we might still have coming, all any of us has to work with is simply the here and now. The best I, or any of us can do, is live life while we have it. We all get older, but being old - or not - is a choice. We can choose to merely exist, or we can live.

Ironically, I think maybe understanding this means I finally "grew up" somewhere along the way after all.

How I expect to feel when I turn 45

P.S. - Fifty years from now if a tiny white haired lady swishes by you in the supermarket, going entirely too fast on her Heelys, take a good look. It might just be me.

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