Day 124. Enjoy It!

Even as a child, I wasn’t crazy about my birthday. Unlike most kids, I was never wild with anticipation as THE day got closer and closer. Not even the prospect of gifts particularly Six Lit Birthday Candlesexcited me. Or parties. Or cake and ice cream. I have no clue why. Ridiculous, I know.

Maybe even at three years old I wasn’t crazy about the idea of time marching on. Who knows. Bet a therapist would have a field day with this one. All I know is, nothing’s changed.

Unlike my mother, who celebrated each and every birthday she had. Yes, she celebrated each and every year she was blessed with ‘living’. Not that she liked getting old. Staring her mortality square in the eye. She just didn’t dwell on it. What I’m about to say may sound like a fragrance commercial or a Hallmark card, but I’m saying it anyway. Because, in my mother’s case, it’s absolutely true (as anyone who knew her can confirm). It defined her and all she stood for:

She defied it. When she looked in the mirror she saw a woman much younger than she really was. She saw a woman with the spirit of a forty year old. And the energy. And the enthusiasm. A woman filled with the joyful anticipation of what each new day could bring. Would bring. Because she willed it so. She’d tell you how old she was, before you asked. To her it was an accomplishment to be proud of.

Vain as she was (and I don’t mean this in a bad way), she NEVER shied away from saying “I’m 75”. Or 80, or 84. I think she

enjoyed seeing the shocked expressions on the faces of those she told. Because she didn’t look her age. Not even close. Without Botox. Or collagen. Or surgery. In her case it was a combination of good genes, a youthful outlook, an unstoppable, unquenchable, contagious zest for life. Because to the day she died, she never left the house without a full face of make-up. She simply refused to let herself get ‘old’. You can see for yourself, in this photo from a blog post I wrote on her birthday. She was 82 when it was taken.

For the first time in my life, as I put myself under the microscope while writing yesterday’s post, I realized she was on to something. Each year that passes is to be enjoyed. Celebrated. Appreciated. Valued. The little lines, and the wrinkles, and the grey hairs are all well-earned. They bring with them some amazing gifts, if you choose to ‘see’ them. They are the marks of a life lived. Well lived. With more to come.

Yes. These ‘battle scars’ bring with them the wisdom from years of experience. Self assurance, from years of trial and error. A comfort level, an appreciation you develop when you finally learn to accept yourself, like yourself, for what and who you are. Warts and all. Which takes time.

The confidence, you get from years of surviving your successes and failures. When you finally say “To Hell with it! I don’t give a shit what anybody thinks.” When you give yourself permission to think what you want, say what you want, do what you want, live the way you want. To be you, in all your glory. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

Okay. I buy into it now. Even as the clock ticks away, it’s possible to remain ‘young’. To look good. Keep current. Have fun. Be fit. Live life to the fullest.

But, the passage of time, the ‘number’ of years you’ve lived can’t be denied. Not forever. And there comes a point when even someone like my mother is forced to acknowledge what the ‘number’ represents. When you see more of your life when you look behind you, then when you look ahead. That’s the maddening part. The scary part. The part that creeps up on you, and one day blindsides you. The day you wake up and it hits you. Holy shit, I’m 50. Or 60. Or 70. Or 82.

And that’s what drives me crazy. Frustrates me. Makes me unhappy. Annoys me. I’ve never thought one lifetime was enough for me to do everything I’d like to do. To see everything I want to see. To experience everything I can. To share everything I know. And suddenly, there’s this new wrinkle. A sense of urgency I wasn’t aware of before. And I don’t like it.

But now I know that even this, isn’t a bad thing. It is making me appreciate ‘time’ in a whole different way. It’s making me realize that all of us, even the young, have been allotted just so much time; and none of us should fritter any of it away. It’s taught me the importance of just doing it (thank you Nike). Getting on with it. To stop procrastinating. To get off my ass and make it happen. Which is a great philosophy to live by, regardless of age.

Like my mother before me, I think I’m ready to celebrate my birthday. When it comes along, next year, I may just throw myself a party. Complete with a cake; and one mother load of candles. Yes, you’re invited.

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6 thoughts on “Day 124. Enjoy It!

  1. My Mother was an example of The Beauty Of Old Age. In every dimenssion: she was a handsome, elegant, kind, helpful person in spite of her hard life. She had lived very long time.

  2. I enjoyed reading this article of your writing. I like the way you described your Mother’s organizational skills and how she honored her age in the one that you wrote on her birthday. “Let’s celebrate ‘every’ day like it’s our birthday”…

  3. So pleased you linked through to the Mom post, what a beautiful pic, I am sure all that optimistic attitude was helping regenerate good cells, it sure shows in her face 🙂

    I love what you share here and after your response to my previous comment, I took the honest approach too in that reply, not sharing the sentiment from the old acquaintance about getting old, I’m 44 and I don’t feel as if I am old at all, I find joy in every year and respect all the work the body has done to get me here and trust that if I look after it, it will continue.

    My Uncle whom I am close to is 66 this year and I love that age too, I actually look forward to it – genuinely – I don’t think I know any 66 year old’s who are unhappy, all those years give a person some wisdom and knowledge that’s worth sharing and listening to.

    But you are right, they are not to be wasted, there is much to do, even in merely appreciating the day, making it worthwhile for someone with some small gesture, or writing another page in that longer term project.

    • Thanks! Glad you clicked on the ‘mom’ post. I think you’re right about the positive outlook. What I love most about that picture is the joy that is on her face. A joy that radiated from the inside, out. Because that summed my mother up. One of the hundreds of lessons she taught me, and still is teaching me even though she’s no longer here, is that every age is to be enjoyed to its fullest, appreciated and celebrated. And that ‘old’ is a state of mind. Advertising, my profession, is an industry full of young ‘uns. And nothing can make you feel ‘old’ more than being surrounded by people whose parents are 40. But you can’t let that bother you. They don’t know half as much as we do.

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