I’m 46 today. Holy Crap.
I never really think about my age – I think it’s true that you never ‘feel’ older, but the other day I had this moment where I realised that I was now closer to 60 than 30.
Oi Oi Oi!
That was quite a moment.
I imagined myself at 60. I hope I will be blessed with the same good health I have today, and that those I love will be too. 46 seems in equal parts insignificant and like the first step into the second half of my life. Actually I once had this really intense meditation where I saw myself dying at 96, which would be fine if just a tad disappointing. Naturally I'd be gunniung for the century.
I’m now ‘mid to late’ forties, does that mean I’m a ‘lady’ and not a ‘girl’?
It’s gotten me to thinking, ‘what is age anyway’? It seems to me that it’s mainly an external gauge of time, but what really defines our age is our behaviour and the way we see ourselves. One of my closest friends is now 63. She’s an acclaimed composer with a melodious laugh, and she sees the world through a child’s eyes in the most pure and honest way. The trials and tribulations of adulthood are an irritation to her and something for grown ups to attend to. I love being around her because she reminds me that you really don’t have to grow up; you can operate in an adult world with the carefree joie de vivre of childhood.
A local woman turned 105 a few weeks ago. She is still as bright as a button and loving every moment. She lamented that these days, we ‘’simply have too much’’ and that life, especially for ‘the youth’, seems so much more complicated. True dat.
I like Buddhism. It’s easy to take on just a few tenets from it and improve your outlook, especially on the topic of ageing. I had a wonderful teacher many years ago and he reminded me daily of the impermanence of everything, including ourselves. That was a valuable lesson for me at 30, when I was in a hiatus between careers. For the first time in my life I gave myself permission to stop and be (for two years in fact!) Striving and yearning for something has its place, maybe, but I learned that in the end, it won’t matter a jot.
It’s a liberating thought; impermanence. It helps me to not dwell on the small things so much, though of course I still do. I think it helps me be a better mother; although I still fuss about inadequate vegetable consumption, and it makes me more tolerant to people’s nuances.
I reckon birthdays are ok. I’m a big fan in fact and even have half birthdays. This was how I managed the interminable wait between years when I was a child. These days, the half birthday is a handy stepping- stone and helps me age with the pride of a nine year old. Like a good score, one day it will be useful if I time out between birthdays; don't say I died at 96. Say I died at 96.5!
I remember my Mum being 36 for 10 years till I finally cottoned on. She was 46 and I asked her what she was afraid of. She said ‘Nothing. A woman’s age is no-one’s business but her own!”
I look at my 81(.5) year old Mum (she’d be mortified I told you that) and still see the same woman, a wry sense of humour and as much energy as she can muster for her zillions of activities. She always seems surprised when a friend drops dead: “ Oh? What did she do that for, there’s still living left to do!”
So I shall be ageless. I will expect to operate as the highest and best version of myself every year from now on. I shall not succumb to society’s expectations of me at any age, I will embarrass my daughter by regularly ‘carpe diem-ing’ in public places. I will laugh inappropriately. I will post back traffic fines with smiley faces and I’ll run up mountains faster than my legs enjoy, singing loudly from the top. Above all, I will embrace the impermanence of life and live it deliberately and unapologetically till my very last breath, which may well be used for blowing out a hundred candles; give or take.