I haven’t the slightest doubt that everyone of my girlfriends who is online (yep – there are still a few who are holding out, and it ain’t nothing to with age, btw), and “of a certain age” have received the chain email below at some stage over the last couple of years. It’s been appearing regularly in my inbox for ages, and this week it cropped up again. I know that the sender is ok with me saying what I am about to say, btw. We’ve been friends since junior school, and she is also defying the years, as I see in her photo.
The first time I read it, I smiled and nodded, “knowing how you feel, sister”, but as the years have passed, and, of course, I am getting older, I find myself agreeing less and less with some of it. Granted it’s the less important stuff which irritates me, the message – Live life to the full, whilst you still can – of course is a no-brainer.
When I began to get serious with this blog, just a little while back, I had two aims really (yep, like everyone, it began as “a way to keep in touch with far-flung friends”), and I wrote and I reposted stuff, as and when the whim took me, for a couple of years, often missing the interesting stuff, because, heck I was doing it, not writing about it. The happy difference is that I now have the time too.
My first aim was to set up something which would develop into a travel blog once I had the wherewithal to set out again. That’s not going to happen for some months yet, at least not on a major scale, and in the meantime events last year had conspired to hammer home to me the reality of life being the journey and not the destination, and that, in turn, brought new appreciation of the world around me. How would I look at this island if I was passing through?
My second aim was to prove that reaching one’s 60th birthday isn’t an instant reason to sit back and sink into inertia for the rest of one’s life. Strangely, people younger than I rarely make me feel that way, working in emergency response, hauling bales of blankets, pulling all-nighters, no-one ever mentioned age, nor said “Here, let me do that”. They don’t seem to treat me any differently than if I were their age, whereas, my own generation seems bent on making me feel as if I should be put out to pasture, not remember my own name and hobble about with a cane. There are exceptions in both cases, of course.
So, these are my responses to this chain email- the parts in italics are the original, and normal type is my response:
I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I’ve aged, I’ve become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I’ve become my own friend. I don’t chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn’t need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.
Agreed – so far as,no way would I trade the family, friends or the bit of wisdom I’ve gained to be young again. Agreed – on the extra cookie, and the unmade bed, and the gecko (but haven’t I always done those things?). But I feel better with the grey colored out (tried it, going grey, that is, didn’t work for me, I really wanted it to because it was going to save me a ton of money, but having seen a photo of myself a few weeks ago, when it was pretty much grown out, I decided no, and haven’t regreted it, despite the fact I absolutely loathe doing it! My self image didn’t change with my defiance of the convention that one shouldn’t go grey. It just wasn’t a color which suited me), and the belly? That has nothing to do with age. It has to do with over-eating, and being unfit, which is bad at any age. It’s stupid to say “I’m older so I will learn to love my fat belly, when it’s going to kill you at worst and at best slow you down”. Don’t get me wrong – the belly is there alright! But I’m fighting it all the way! It definitely is a factor in how “old” one feels.
I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.
Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 &70’s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love ….. I will.
Nobody’s business, but it never was. And the dancing is fine but dance to the music of the 80s and 90s and 2s as well! Don’t get stuck reliving the past. That is the fastest way to aging I know! And weeping over a lost love? Well, depends on how he was lost. If he died that’s one thing, but if he left you for any reason, best celebrate and not weep. He made you stronger, and he made you what you are today.
I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old.
Of course they will, and who ever gave a flying f*** what they thought anyway???? See above for thoughts on bulges! They don’t look nice on the young, and even worse if you are “ a certain age”….plus they slow you down!
I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.
Mostly, people use age as an excuse, when they mean they are too lazy to remember stuff, especially once they stop working for their living. Sure we lose brain cells as we age, but we have so many of the things we really shouldn’t miss a few! However, it is true that our brains learn to prioritize and weed out the trivia, so depends on what you are forgetting. If anyone, ever, says to me again, “That was a senior moment”, you will hear the scream at both Poles!
Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody’s beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.
TOTALLY AGREED FOR ONCE! Having known heartbreak makes you more open to others, so long as you don’t dwell on it for the rest of your life of course. It increases you ability to empathize with others, and help them.
I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.
AGREED AGAIN! whilst I will color my hair, I won’t worry about the lines and hollows and wrinkles. Even if I was rich I wouldn’t. I’d just have them fixed and get on with it!! But since I’m not, I’ll just get on with it anyway. One of the biggest things life has taught me is not to fret over the things we can’t change, lots of things we can change, but some we can’t, but we can often find ways around them.
As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think.. I don’t question myself anymore. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong.
You really should never have cared that much what people think, we all, always, have the right to be wrong, that’s how we learn. Ask any of the successful people who write books and blogs about their lives – learning how to deal with the failures was instrumental in their success and they all repeat that.
So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it).
I like being the age I am now. It’s not old. I’m not the person I want to be, but I am still working on that. There is still so much to learn – about the world, about others and about myelf. Definitely never worth crying over spilt milk, or things you can’t do anything about. Eat dessert, just run another block.
As one of my friends says “The journey continues.”