Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

50 is the new 50.

One month from today I will turn 50.  It’s funny, but when people hear that, they like to ask, “How do you feel about that?!” as though it’s a diagnosis, not a birthday.  Outside of a wee blood pressure issue that is certainly a sign of aging, I feel fine, thank you for asking.  But, honestly I’ve felt fine about all of the decade milestones.  20, 30, 40 they were all good.  10 was probably the worst one, but that had more to do with a creepy family “friend” (with friends like him, who needed felons) than it did with getting older. 

Getting older is one of the greater privileges you get in this life.  Sure, there’s some crap that also comes on the tray, but if you really look at it – aging really is a gift.  You can start with the #1 platitude about the process: With age, comes wisdom.  While that is mostly true for a large portion of the population, there is that group that is repeatedly offered the bag o’ smarts and turns it down, judging by their complete inability to mature (or spell).  It’s as though they stopped accepting the inflow of any information containing more than 140 characters at a time between the ages of 16-22 and man, is it annoying.

When it comes to adding candles to your birthday cake, there is also the more morose sentiment of: Consider the alternative.  “Whoo! Every day above ground is a good day!” the eternal optimists chirp.  Equally annoying.

Honestly, I wish we could all just grow up and accept and honor the process of aging, as a whole — once again becoming a people who respect the beauty and intelligence of a (long) life well lived.  As Longfellow wrote: 

For age is opportunity no less

Than youth itself, though in another dress

And as the evening twilight fades away

The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.

When I was growing up, the general consensus on getting older was that it wasn’t a good thing.  In fact, it was to be fought tooth and nail at every turn.  Lotions, potions, powders and promises to help people hit 29 and holding, to never trust anyone over thirty and that 40 isn’t old if you’re a tree.

 

All through my youth I watched as women of a “certain age” lied about how old they were, which still mystifies me to this day.  I couldn’t do it.  You tell someone you’re 10 years younger than you are and it cannot be easy to digest their initial disbelief (head cocked to one side, pupils dilated, nerves wracked, forehead sweating) which is followed by their weak smile, the one that shows they’re obviously working hard to believe the big fat lie that just fell out of your mouth.  Cheese and crackers, people.  Wouldn’t you rather just fib a few years in the opposite direction, in the hopes that you get a truer “Gosh, you look great!” 

Or, how about you just stop putting so much ridiculous emphasis on how you look?  We live on a planet that insists on oxidation, no matter how much you and your Maserati driving dermatologist think you can fight it.  Every living thing goes through it, so why not find a new normal for the greater good of us all?  Maybe nobody else wants to do it, but I would like to address that pink elephant sitting in the middle of the Hollywood lounge: Normal is not having collagen (which is extracted from bovine hides, cadavers or manufactured in a lab, BTW), forcibly pumped into your now chimpmunky cheeks and  painful Pointdexter-punched-me looking lips.  Normal is not the frozen brow of one who has obviously stopped pondering the mysteries of the universe (or long division) a long time ago.  Seriously, no furrows means nothin’ is planted there – and that’s no fun at a lengthy dinner party or long nights by the fire, let me tell you. 

Sad is the soul that only looks with the eyes, expecting to always see arrested youth, any way. 

No.  I am not afraid of getting older.  I have no problem with it, but I’m sorry if you do.  Go ahead and make your jokes.  Continue, if you must, to think of this time of life as “Over the hill.”  Sure, it took me a long time to get here, but baby child — it has been an incredible journey.  And, just so you know, the view on this side, the one over here on the other side the hill?  It. Is. Stunning.   

On the other hand, I know that it isn’t going to be easy, this growing old gracefully (or at least less pitifully) thing, but I still believe there are many gems to be found and like miners in search of precious stones, one has to work for the treasures.  Bette Davis wasn’t kidding when she said, “Old age is no place for sissies.”  [Neither is parenting, but that’s another blog for another time.]  If you’re not quite onboard yet with embracing your impending AARPness, take your time.  Honestly, chances are you’re still going to fret, fuss and fume about it, but at the end of the day, it will behoove you to make peace with it.  Oh, and don’t worry if you end up with a few lines on your forehead from it all.  It is just going to make you one of the most interesting people to sit next to at the banquet of life.

“Forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age.” – Victor Hugo

“It is too late! Ah, nothing is too late
Till the tired heart shall cease to palpitate.
Cato learned Greek at eighty; Sophocles
Wrote his grand Oedipus, and Simonides
Bore off the prize of verse from his compeers,
When each had numbered more than fourscore years,
And Theophrastus, at fourscore and ten,
Had but begun his “Characters of Men.”

Chaucer, at Woodstock with the nightingales,
At sixty wrote the Canterbury Tales;
Goethe at Weimar, toiling to the last,
Completed Faust when eighty years were past.”
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow from “Morituri Salutamus”

From “Fried Green Tomatoes” —
Glorious older woman, Evelyn Couch, is cut off in a parking lot.
Evelyn: Hey! I was waiting for that spot!
Girl #1: Face it, lady, we’re younger and faster!
[Evelyn rear-ends the other car six times]
Girl #1: What are you *doing*?
Girl #2: Are you *crazy*?
Evelyn: Face it, girls, I’m older and I have more insurance.

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