Recently I’ve found myself thinking more about the subject of aging. Although it’s never been something I’ve been especially worried about, I find that my perspective on it seems to be changing along with my own advancement.
When we are children, our birthdays are eagerly anticipated and vigorously celebrated. We count our ages in ½ and even ¼ year increments. We imagine all of the ways our lives will be better with each passing year… and in many ways they are.
In our later teenage years and on into our twenties, we are so caught up in the adventures of our youth that considerations of planning for our future health, retirement savings and the like seem utterly ridiculous. Anyone over a certain age is most certainly obsolete in their thinking and way of life, and only members of this particular generation can possibly ever “get it”.
When I was that age (too many moons ago), I remember my parents and their friends often using the expression “Youth is wasted on the young.” It always angered me to hear that then, because I thought of it as a nasty commentary on our collective naiveté, which would ultimately prevent us from fully appreciating our lives in that present moment. I whole-heartedly disagreed because beyond any doubt, I knew I was having the time of my life.
But, this is also the stage when some heavy soul searching begins to take place. I’m not sure it’s something that ever really ends (for some of us, at least), but “finding” ourselves is certainly a key component to growing up. And during this time, how many of us did not make life-altering decisions we’d give plenty to reverse at this point? “If I only knew then, what I know now” is another expression that comes to mind – and may more accurately reflect what the “old folks” actually meant by that earlier statement.
Either way, the past is what it is and focusing on what can’t be changed is not healthy. And then I look in the mirror and for the first time, I realize that my face is truly changing. I know that I can no longer pass for 20-something and probably not even early 30-something – unless someone were to be very generous. Yes, it’s all down hill from here. So, what now?
I’m certain the key to really living is in finding authentic enjoyment at every stage of life. Being you and embracing or changing each situation to suit yourself as necessary. I don’t want to look back on my life with regret. I think that’s wrong. We all make decisions based on what we know and where we are at a specific time in our lives.
So as I age, I hope I have the wisdom to forgive myself for my mistakes and courage to move past anything that proves very difficult, in order to have a chance at living my life with the same exuberance I once did when I was 5 ½ and 11 ¼ and 16. And I wish the same thing for all of you.