I’ve got aging on my mind right now.
There’s a birthday in my not too distant future. And everywhere you turn somebody’s bringing it up (age, not my birthday.) The presidential race seems to have become about Marco Rubio being too young, Bernie Sanders being the oldest candidate ever and how, to all the experts’ surprise, Hillary Clinton’s not connecting with young women.
One of this year’s Screen Actors Guild Award nominees is nine years old. Had he also been nominated for an Oscar he would have been the youngest in Oscar history.
Women, and men, spend billions, maybe trillions of dollars each year on anti-aging products and hair dye. And I defy you to walk into any ad agency or tech company and find anyone there over the age of 30 or 40 — except somebody’s parents (or grandparents, God help me) visiting from out of town.
So is it any wonder people lie about their age, go into debt so they can go under the knife and rich old men have gorgeous young babes dangling from their wrists and pop Viagra more frequently than breath mints?
It doesn’t surprise me. But I am bemused by it.
What’s so great about being young?
Last week I watched Isabel Allende’s Ted Talk on living passionately at 71. It inspired me so much I wrote a blog post about it. And I’ve done a lot of thinking about age and aging since; and I’ve come to the following conclusions:
It’s not ‘youth’ I want. It’s ‘time’. That’s what sucks about getting older. All of a sudden you’re staring down an expiry date.
Despite all the violence and hatred and bigotry and poverty and hypocrisy that surrounds us, I still believe it’s great to be alive and also that this is a great time to be alive. Technology makes almost anything possible, we don’t have to limit our dreams anymore. There are also so many bright, inquisitive minds out there and, again thanks to technology, their ideas and solutions are accessible to us.
They give me energy and make me excited about the future. It’s only going to get better and I want to be around, and functioning, to see it, learn from it, contribute what I can and enjoy it. How old I’ll be doesn’t matter to me.
There’s something else. I can’t speak for you, but I am much braver now than I was in my twenties and thirties. I know who I am, I like who I am, I’m comfortable with who I am, I am not out to impress anyone. I take chances much more readily, I don’t second guess myself. I know what I want, what I like and what I don’t. And I have the confidence, and the balls, to avoid, like the plague, anything or anyone annoying, frustrating or disappointing. Happy thoughts, remember?
That’s what experience does for you. That’s what making mistakes, surviving them and learning from them does for you.
Which is also why I’m wiser now. Life has made me so. And it’s good, really good.
Yes, my hair is grey and I like it like that. I’ve made peace with my wrinkles and I love that I earned them living a great life and having a fabulous time.
If it was up to me I’d live happily without my sore shoulder, my stiff neck and some of the aches and pains I don’t remember having before. But when I’m disciplined enough to start my morning with an hour of pilates I’m a different woman.
Meryl Streep said it best when she turned 60: “I’m very f*cking grateful to be alive. I have so many friends who are sick or gone, and I’m here. Are you kidding? No complaints!”