Are you reeling in the years? Stowing away the time? I sure am. I’ve been stowing a lot lately. And I don’t like it one bit.
Aging beyond recognition is my current personal crisis. I’m meandering across that bridge between my younger years and old age trying in vain to squeeze a few last drops of youthful energy from my achy body while glancing wistfully at the panoramic view over my shoulder. If you are older, and reading this, please accept my apology. You might snicker to yourself at my 48-year-old melancholy, but I know you remember this feeling – because it’s genuine and human.
In the mirror I see all the emerging signs. My (very) crinkled eyes when I smile. The (much) deeper lines around my lips. The swirly rows on my forehead. The growing, basset hound bags. I move slower and lower, as gravity truly takes over. I creek and I pop. More often, it seems, there are reading glasses perched on the end of my nose. I’ve even got a weird, un-explainable pain in my right elbow.
I ripple and I wiggle. Things jostle and jiggle. Parts of my body need to be sucked and tucked into compression materials. Compression has become like a trusted friend. A droopy neck is tentatively advancing, and I understand the whole “crepe” skin thing. In a nutshell, I look pretty good when I’m laying down on my back in the dark, but daylight is not my friend.
Do you feel the same way? I’ve thought a lot about how to handle “the transition” and now that it’s truly here, I believe there are some things we can do to fight our aging blues.
We can remember and remind ourselves that we had our turn. We had our turn to be young and none of us who reach middle age can declare that youth skipped over us. Everything was fair and square. If we have regrets about how we spent our turn being young, it’s our own damn fault. Perhaps it’s time to go after some of the things we missed?
“Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
We can let go of some things. It is truly okay to let go of the many things that keep us from moving forward. And there’s a distinction between giving up and letting go. If we let things go, our world will not end. We can shed people, old ideas, and all the stuff we don’t need. The sadness and discomfort we might feel when things are unfamiliar is fleeting. Letting go frees us because it opens new doors. When we tightly hang on to our “old stuff” (hairstyles, clothing, detrimental people) we remain stuck in a time warp. For example, letting go of coloring our hair and finally “going gray” is quite liberating! At least I think it would be. I’ll never do it, but you guys can.
“I realize there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go.” ~ Jeffrey McDaniel
We can try something new. New is fun, and why not have a little fun? Sure, we can continue to say things like “next summer, or when I’m thinner, or, when I don’t have so much work to do…” but that’s how our regrets form and multiply. Try something new and do it now. We only have now. Being at peace with getting older is very much about living with few regrets.
“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” ~ Tom Robbins
We can still look and feel damn good. We can always improve our bodies and our health with clean eating and exercise. Going for our annual physicals and not ignoring symptoms is how we take care of ourselves. We can slow the physical part of the aging process by continuing to move, and by eliminating crappy food. Oh, and we can quit smoking once and for all, or put limits on our alcohol consumption. Nothing ages us faster than bad habits.
“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” ~ George Burns
We can be grateful for what we’ve learned along the way. It’s fun to look at old photos and talk about our memories. I always try to remember what I was thinking at the time, where I was in life, and what I learned. Being grateful, I believe, is something we learn along the way. As time becomes something tangible (counted years), we learn to appreciate where we’ve been, and what we now know for sure. Clarity comes from taking an honest, reflective look at our past.
“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle
We can live mindfully in the moment. We can live for today, and today only. In fact, we can take it a step further, and live one simple, profound moment at a time. This very moment is actually all we have and as long as we continue to breathe, we can continue to feel young at heart.
“There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless.” ~ Milan Kundera
I’m reeling in the years – and boy they seem to be coming at me faster than ever! But I’m still standing. I’m still learning, and doing, and fighting for what I want. Every day, I try to look at life with new optimism and a fresh start. As long as I feel pretty good, I have nothing to complain about.
I’m starting to view my own aging like a delicious piece of late summer fruit. Right now, at this exact point in time, I am ripe and ready to savor myself and all the juicy stuff yet to come.