Some Thoughts on Aging.
One morning last October, during the early part of my 36th trip around the sun, I woke up with a crick in my neck. It is now weeks away from June and the crick is still there, except it’s no longer a crick, it’s a creak, which means one thing. An obvious, sometimes painful, but often beautiful truth. I’m growing older.
Newsflash: You are too. And you know it. But if you’re anything like me, you still have a hard time really believing it. You think it every time you and your girlfriends swap recipes in lieu of mini-skirts or you brag about your high-end vacuum cleaner. You realize it every time you look over at your husband, fully engrossed in a news program or stock tips or golf on TV. You are amazed to look down at your children with their little faces and limited responsibilities, with the head-smacking recognition that HOLY SHIT I’m the grown-up in this house. I have moved on to a completely different plane of life and I didn’t even feel it coming.
Yesterday I was three feet tall, and now I’m rubbing thick cream into hands that sometimes feel like paper.
Yesterday I was passing notes in the hallway, and now I’m decorating cupcakes for my daughter’s class.
Yesterday I got my first job, and now I’m a year away from retirement.
Yesterday I held you, and now I’m kissing you goodbye.
Isn’t it weird? Doesn’t it go fast? Does anyone actually feel their age, or are we all just in a constant state of stupefaction that we’re not 7 or 18 or 23 anymore? I think one of the most oft repeated sentences I hear at work is: ”How is it possible that I’m already…(29) (36) (48) (55) (60)(73), etc…
I’m almost 37. It’s not old. But it’s not super young. I’m not even sure it’s really in the middle either. It’s just…37.
Thirty-seven sounds interesting to me. Sexy, even. Thirty-seven isn’t girlish and innocent; it’s grown-up and self-assured, guided more by instinct and experience than blind faith and others’ advise. At 37, risks have been taken, mistakes made, lessons learned. There are still dreams left to chase, milestones to be reached, different paths to welcome or reject. There is still enough time ahead to do the things you’ve fantasized about, and enough time behind to make you rev up your pace so you can make sure they actually get done.
Because at 37, time is sterling. We talk about time constantly. We talk about how we want more of it. How we want to spend it wisely. How we want it for ourselves. How we want to share it with others. We want to learn how to suspend it. Generate it. Savor it.
Lately life has been showing me little reminders that tides have turned and I am being commissioned to a new phase. Even though time doesn’t exactly feel like it’s fleeting, there is an understanding that it is indeed finite. That it’s rolling along at a steady clip, and I am required to keep pace, whether I like it or not. In this phase there are decisions to settle, nests to feather, biological calls that must be consciously answered or prudently silenced. I don’t wish I were younger. I wish I had more time.
How is it possible that I’m already 37?
I ask myself this as I’m interviewing interns at my agency, whose boundless enthusiasm and wide-eyed eagerness practically bolster me from my own chair. I ask myself this as many of my friends deliver their first, second and even third child. I ask myself this while balanced on the hard wooden bleachers of a high school gym, as my 8-year-old niece climbs to the top of the pyramid during a cheerleading competition.
Has it really been 20 years since I’ve held a pom-pon?
I have a client in his early 60s who said to me last week: “I’m not that bothered by growing older. All of the finest things in the world are aged.” Damn, I thought to myself. What a great way to view this weird, wonderful, difficult process.
So I am challenging myself to not be too bothered by growing older.
I will simply jump the hurdles that life presents, and strive to make my days meaningful. To keep trying. To keep doing. To keep planning things to look forward to. To give others my best. To give my dreams a shot. If I fuck up, I’ll start all over again. I’ll take the time I’ve been given and I’ll maximize it. Enjoy it. Savor it.
Really, what other option is there? We’re all moving down the same road, we’re just at different mile markers. Let’s give each other high-fives and rah-rahs along the way. It’s going to be an adventure. And we’re all going to be just fine.
We’ve got spirit.
Yes, we do.