(“Ann Onymous” sent me another thought-provoker. I gave it my usual editorial attention. Any resemblance to the original is purely coincidental.)
Looking in the Mirror
The other day a young person asked me how I felt about being old. I thought about that. Actually, I don't really think of myself as old! One doesn't “get” old all of a sudden. One “becomes” older just by living longer. It's our human condition—no exceptions. So I'm quite used to the idea.
One “grows” older and that is a gift in process. Probably for the first time in my life I'm now becoming the person I've always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometimes despair over the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the cellulite. Where did the collagen go when it disappeared from my arms—and other mostly hidden places? Often I'm surprised to look closely at that old person who lives in my mirror. But I don't agonize long over such things. I would never trade my amazing friends, my fulfilling life, my loving family, and my hopefully acquired wisdom for less gray hair or a flatter belly.
Some things get better with age—wine and cheese, for example. As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself and less critical of others. I've become my own best friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, for not making my bed, or for buying that silly gadget that I didn't need but that gives me pleasure. I'm entitled to be messy if I wish, to be extravagant if I can be, and to stop and smell as many roses as I want to.
I've seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon before they experienced the great freedom
that comes with aging. Whose business is it if I choose to read all night or play on the computer until 4 a.m. and then sleep until -- ? No one sees me when I dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 50s & 60s. Or if I wish to weep over a lost love. If I choose to, I will strut along the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body oblivious to the pitying glances of the bikini set. They, too, will get old (if they're lucky). I know I'm sometimes forgetful. Then again, some things in life are just as well forgotten. I eventually remember the important things, but if not, they couldn't have been that important anyway.
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 a beloved pet gets hit by a car? Broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect. I'm so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turn 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 turned silver.
I can now say "no" and mean it. I can say "yes" and mean it. As I advance in years, it's easier to be positive. I care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong—on rare occasions, of course!
Becoming older has set me free. I'm not concerned about what could have been, nor do I worry about what will be. After all these years, I've finally made peace with the person I've become. I'm not going to live forever on Planet Earth, but while I'm still in my mortal “earth suit,” I won't waste time lamenting what it looks like now. It has served me well. God has prepared a fantastic “space suit” for me to wear in my eternal life to come that is wrinkle-proof and everlasting.
Today I'm going to appreciate every one of God's not-so-ordinary miracles of life and breath and what's left of my diminishing five senses. I will greet the day with thanksgiving, joy, and anticipation. I will live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, appreciate my blessings—and leave the rest to God. Yes, I've decided I like having grown older!