The New Aging Gracefully

I think it’s oddly intriguing I was inspired to write about aging gracefully on International Women’s Day, since there ain’t exactly a lot of women modelling how to age gracefully these days. Liposuction and tucks and Botox, oh my! But there you have it. Get over yourselves, girls.

I like getting older. I like it even better when I get told all the time that people think I’m 6-10 years younger than I am.

Probably from spending all those years protecting myself from the elements — sheltered on cushy sofas. No wind-battered face here, friends!

And now that I live much better than I did for a decade there, I guess that shows too.

Hallmark card character I LOVE.

But, aging? Yeah. I like it.

The big four-oh is still 2.4 years away, but I’m looking forward to aging and letting go of even more of the bullshit that mires one’s younger life.

I’m in a strange position in my life right now. Five years ago, I’d have been having a borderline nervous breakdown. Now I’m planning a dinner party for tomorrow, chilling, and erring on the side of faith.

There’s the old saying, “This too shall pass,” and I think around 40 is when we start really believing in what we can overcome and/or achieve. It varies, of course, depending on the crash-course life’s had each of us on.

Me, I got the lesson of “life’s tough, get a helmet” in the last decade, and now I feel like I’ve had the dress rehearsal, and I simply know at my core that every hard time I face is on a limited-life plan, and I’m more than likely to be the victor at the end of it.

“Face-palm and carry on,” as the new saying goes — the NEW Guide to Aging Gracefully.

It really comes down, I guess, to whether or not we’re willing to examine each lame-ass time for its growth lessons. I do. I can’t possibly imagine going through ALL that shit for NOTHING, man. If I’ve learned from it? Fucking A. I’ll take THAT for a dollar, Alex.

I still have more Zen Master schoolin’ to do. After all, I’m not even 40. I’m not nearly as chill as I’d like to be, but I’m surprising myself. Sure, I occasionally want to kill asshats on transit, but that’s not really indicative of me being high-stress, it’s more indicative of the erosion of intelligent life on Earth. I’m tryin’, man.

Honestly, I’m glad I was laid-off long-term. I’m glad I went through a lot of the shit in the last year that I have. I’m glad I had pneumonia. I’ve learned SO much about myself in the last year.

Was it hard? Yes. I even became depressed in the fall. (Not anymore.) I’m sort of back where I started, in a lot of ways, but as a completely different person. It grew a quiet confidence in me, and things I’m doing now will really amp that up. It’s confidence I had none of last spring, considering I was already in a depression and a financial hole before I even lost my job.

If the whole Malcolm Gladwell 10,000-hours-to-master thing is for real, then the 5 years since my last unemployment has been mind-bogglingly insightful. My god, the lessons we learn through our trials.

Staying employed and stable and never taking risks, well, that might make for a nice comfortable life, but I guarantee you, you’ll be learning a fraction of what it is you’re capable of in life.

Age. With it comes that experience you just can’t buy. And when you’re 20 and you think “OH! Why don’t they take me seriously? Why don’t they think I understand?” well, it’s because they feel exactly like I do — that you can’t possibly know all the things that’ll bloom in you over the next two decades.

I like to sit back sometimes and reflect on who I was at specific ages, how full of shit I was, compared to me now.

And then I like to think of how I’ll feel about the same question in another two decades. How I’ll chuckle dryly at the age of 57 — the same age my mother was at her death — and think how I couldn’t possibly have known all that would come my way, how much life could pack in an hour, a day, a week, never mind a decade, and how much I’d learn about myself and the world around me as I lived through all of that.

That’s the beauty of the unknown.

And the beauty of aging is, we better know the vastness of that unknown, but we also come to learn the vastness of human potential. We see more. We understand.

Or, some of us do.