Monday, July 26, 2010

Owning myself

Turning 60 this spring was quite a big deal to me, even though I have not stressed over any of my other "milestone" birthdays. For the longest time, I didn't even realize it was eating away at me, and it reached a crescendo just as I was recognizing it. Now I've decided I like it, and I'd like to stay here for maybe twenty or so years. Finally, I am starting to accept the person in the mirror (operative word: starting). I have long eschewed the term "age appropriate", and probably won't sign up for entire program just yet...although it's clear my bikini days are ancient history, and it's probably wiser for me to stay off the roller skates. Compromises. It's all about compromises. I'm just thrilled I'm a) alive, b) healthy, and c) have such a great partner and wonderful life, family, friends, and the freedom to enjoy them all.

There is a beautiful quilt blog I've started following this summer: Postcards from Panama. A couple of weeks ago, the author, Carol, posted the following paragraphs. The author is unknown, and this has apparently been viral for a while...so if you've read it already, you'll probably enjoy reading it again...and if you happen to know who the author is, that would be splendid, as well. We would love to give credit where credit is due. Feel free to share it, as I am. I think it speaks for many of us of a "certain age". Oh, and P.S.: if you're still lots younger, go for it, and enjoy all that you have now. All those years I hated having photos taken...I wish I'd had to sense to document that I didn't always look like I do now. Love yourself NOW.

Old Age, I decided, is a gift.

I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometime despair over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror, but I don’t agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I’ve aged, I’ve become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I’ve become my own friend. I don’t chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn’t need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to overreact, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 a.m, and sleep until noon?

I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60′s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love . I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the bikini set. They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten and I have forgotten what the young are just learning and I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when a beloved pet dies? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turn gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver. I can say “no,” and mean it. I can say “yes.” and mean it.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don’t question myself anymore. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it.)

11 comments:

Carol from Panama said...

Wonderful to see it here again Martie - and I hope it spreads like wildfire!

Orange Sink said...

Wonderful piece! We've earned the "rights" to so many of these freedoms that come with age! Let's embrace them, shall we?!
Cathy G

Kim said...

Love that. Its too bad it takes many of us so long to get to "that place" mentally.

Taos Sunflower said...

I remember years ago, when I took a drawing class in Santa Fe. The first live model had tons of wrinkles on her face and was fascinating to draw. The second woman, very young, had none...and I realized she did not have the character the first woman had. I should have gotten that message, or part of it, back then. Oh well...better late than never.

dyedreams said...

Sad to say in our society and culture ageing has such negative connotations. I'm on the same path of acceptance, Martie. Embracing an older, and hopefully wiser, me. Thanks for sharing!

Taos Sunflower said...

Ah yes...the United States of Hollywood, where our own, homegrown, "royalty" have lots of work put into trying to remain forever young...not to mention the fashion industry, where a "plus" size model is size 12 or 14. Can you imagine the old masters having so much fun painting an underfed model??

swamericana said...

First, I've finished Wesley the Owl and I will write more about him and his girl later. I can tell you, Martie, that this book is changing me in a good way, further down the road in inter-species communication. Thank you for the recommendation. I wish we could talk about it someday, but until then, I'll write about it and write about it.

Sixty years eats away at a lot of us. I'm 68. Don't suffer fools like I used to. I have a lot of feelings on this aging. Don't we all. I like your post and will apply its wisdom and insight to my condition and gender. Wished I could to take some weight off...but I digress.

Take care out there. (Jack Matthews, Sage to Meadow)

Taos Sunflower said...

Hi Jack: I'm so happy to hear you enjoyed the book. I'll look forward to reading what you write about it in the future.
I'm with you on not suffering fools! I've spent all the time I choose to with people who have more needs than I have time to understand or help with (and I'm sure they could say the same). As one of my kids once said, there sure are a lot of "energy vampires" out there!

Ter'e said...

I had to buy this book. Sounds like I would love it too. I bet this will be a great beach read.............thanks for the tip.

Taos Sunflower said...

Ter'e: I'm lost...what book??? (Hope I don't embarrass myself here...)

Taos Sunflower said...

OH DUH...Wesley the Owl. I was thinking it had something to do with my posting on aging. Sorry. Long day, time to get some sleep.