Friday, November 09, 2007

Old Age is a Gift

As shamelessly "borrowed" from the blog, Amelia Rose Cottage (which states she herself does not know the source of this wonderful essay:

Old Age, I decided, is a gift.

I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometime despair over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my mother!), but I don't agonize over those things for long.

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 more kind 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.
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.

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.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.

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.

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.

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.

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)

My note: This is relevant for me now that I am turning 44 and looking back with amazement at all the emotional, physical, spiritual and--let's not forget--technological changes the world and I have been through. After all, I grew up without computers, when a phone call or a jukebox song was a dime, when Disco was king, when gossiping with your friends happened face to face, and when a notebook, pen, and a good book were the best entertainment for a writer like me. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, to bastardize Dickens. We also had the energy crisis, Watergate, bad hair, bell-bottoms, Queen and Twisted Sister. But you never had to answer a demanding cell phone at all hours, check emails, or go online to find your friends. I guess I've lived through a lot. It reminds me of my grandfather's stories of his childhood memories of horse-drawn wagons and farriers in downtown Albany, NY, to his present day existence with cars and microwaves and PDAs. From his gunnery seargent days in World War II Burma and Panama, to his days as a door-to-door salesman and, later, world traveller, he saw it all. And had some wonderful stories to show for it. I try to tell my stories to the young 'uns, who just roll their eyes and listen patiently. "Back in my day, we had stone soup for dinner and that's the way it was and we liked it..." Sigh. I wonder if my stepkids will some day be saying the same things?


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