It’s my birthday next week, and while this is not a source or great joy for me, nor is it a source of major depression. However, in the past few days I have had to enter my date of birth into some of those pre-populated web forms a few times for various things. You have to scroll down to find your year of birth, and lately I seem to have been scrolling for so long that the wheel starts to spin, and eventually stops at a year miles from today. Then I start to think about the number, and realise it is getting quite high.
My 40 year high school reunion was this year, and I was too scared to go. I didn’t want to do that thing where we look each other up and down ever so subtly to see who has aged the best, and who is barely recognisable from those far away days. Or worse still, not have a clue who some of the people were, and have to pretend. I prefer to quietly lurk on social media where I can hand pick photos that don’t make me look too aged and haggard.
Then I had a visit from a dear friend who lives in the States. I hadn’t seen her since 1996 when we were both in our 30s. I realised with horror that if we leave it another 20 years, we will both be in our 70s. Yikes!
Sometimes this is a bit scary, as I think about things that happened 30 years ago that seem like they happened yesterday. Then I think 30 years into the future, and realise that there is more than a slim chance that I won’t be around then, and certainly, many friends and family won’t be either. I’m definitely much closer to the end than the start, and I don’t know how that happened, or how I feel about it.
And on that sobering and cheerful thought, I’d better turn my attention to the positives of getting older. So what are some of the benefits of now being closer to the next decade than the previous one? I’ve started to think about this a bit lately, and decided it was time to write about some of the pluses:
- Firstly, I’m no longer particularly worried what other people think of me. It has taken me years to get to this point and it’s very liberating.
- Discretionary income – for the first time in my life I have a small capacity for some discretionary spending. We can do nice things without agonising about what we will need to do without. On this note, No. 1 Child and I spent a lovely weekend in Sydney recently. We shopped and dined, and put ourselves up in a pretty nice hotel. I treasure these times and am glad that we have the opportunity to have weekend treats away like this.
- My hair is turning very grey. But it’s going quite a nice shade of grey that many people pay lots of money to achieve, so I’m letting mine go. This is also very liberating, as I have dyed my hair since I was 20 something.
- Nana naps – these are wonderful weekend treats, and I think I’ve earned them. The problem will be if the need for them starts to extend beyond weekends.
- The kids are all grown up, and while Mum and Dad are on hand to offer advice and support as needed, they are pretty independent and self-supporting. Well done us (and them)!
- Wisdom – I think I give pretty good advice based on life experience. Part of this is that you also learn to live in the now, rather than worrying about the past, or what might be in the future.
I’d like to say that everything about getting older was positive, but of course there are the negatives – stress incontinence; hairs in places you’d prefer to not have them (you know where), and fewer in places where you do want them (eyebrows); aches and pains and creaky joints; insomnia; the inability to keep my mouth shut tactfully if asked to give an opinion, and sometimes giving it anyway, even if I’m not asked. My memory, which has always been excellent, can also let me down as names and details escape me. I try to look on this as having an inbuilt filtering system, sifting out the unimportant.
Life is a gift. A friend recently posted an amazing photo on Facebook of the Milky Way that he took from his home in Central Otago. It was awe inspiring, and the clarity and distance in that photo hit me with the certainty that it would be arrogant to assume that we were on our own in this universe. So whatever other forms life may exist out there, for an infinitesimally brief period of history in this universe, we are here, now.
I suggest we enjoy every moment, as I’m not nearly ready to contemplate the alternative.