“Maybe it’s true that life begins at fifty. But everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out.”
We are living on average today 34 years longer than our great-grandparents did. Think about that. That’s an entire second adult lifetime that’s been added to our lifespan. I should have started saving for this time of my life a wee bit earlier! I don’t believe our culture has come to terms with what this means. We’re still living with the old paradigm of age as an arch. That’s the metaphor, the old metaphor. You’re born, you peak at midlife and decline into decrepitude. The retirement years used to be the shortest time period for us, it was the time between when you left your job of 50 years and the time you died. Now retirement is very often, the longest period of our life. And when we think of old, we think of someone decrepit. But if I”m not working and I”m not decrepit, what am I?
I used to work in the aging industry. A Non Profit that provided services for the entire continuum of care throughout the aging process. Some of what I saw wasn’t pretty, caring for the elderly could be monumentally hard, on both you and your family and the elderly don’t seem to be having much fun either. It’s simple, Aging is dismal. But there is a sweet spot for a few years and I seem to be in it right now.
A woman I admired once compared aging to leaves on a tree. Every year the tree would sprout new leaves in the spring. They were new young supple and green. The leaves would provide the necessary and welcoming shade in the summer. But it wasn’t until the fall when the aging process of the leaves would begin would you begin to see the slow emergence of color arrive out of those leaves. And every leaf was different! Some leaves would turn a bright orange, some red and some a dark rusted oak. Together they blended with each other brilliantly. As the days went on and the leaves grow older the colors grow more intense. This creates such beauty that people have been getting in their cars and driving for miles just to admire natures handiwork. And each year, this phenomena is made possible by the aging process.
I’m in my mid 50’s and I would have to say the autumn of my life. So, I’ve begun the “colorful” part of my life cycle. Here’s what I’ve found:
As for the colorful part…
- My roots need touching up more often now, but the grey is so close to blond I can get away with passing it off as blond highlights, so I spend less money on highlights now
- There is less “Black and White” Areas in my life now and more “Gray Areas”
- My Language is certainly more “colorful” now. A young man passed me as I walked my dog yesterday, going way too fast and way too close on his bike. I laid down a string of F Bombs that could’ve made a Sailor blush.
- I plucked a grey eyebrow yesterday! I’m not really sure I know what to do with that information
Things that have surprised me…
- Every morning the image in the the huge mirror across from the shower greets me as I open the shower curtain, I must admit I’m a little shocked. That is NOT WHAT I SEE IN MY HEAD! Still every day this same site surprises me just a little. So, I guess forgetful is something that I should add to the list too
- I am stunned when someone from high school “Facebook friends” me and their picture looks SO MUCH OLDER than me. I wonder, do they think that about me? I remember looking on Facebook for a dear old friend I had in high school, I thought certain I had found her. I was surprised when I discovered I had found her daughter.
- My husband and I have moved around the country a lot due to his job, so it seems most of the “friends” I make are much younger than me. I don’t seem to give it much thought, until that is, the inevitable sentence that is always delivered; “That’s what my mom always says!”
- I am AMAZED at how many times people walk right into me as if they can’t even see me. Do people not make eye contact anymore? or do people just not make eye contact with me anymore? I had a girlfriend who was about 10 years older than me tell me once, Middle Aged Women would make the best spies because they are virtually invisible. I believe her now.
- I will not buy a wrinkle cream just because you advertise how great it is…..ON a 20 YEAR OLD! As I find myself in this new “colorful” time of my life, I find myself a bit more introspective, a bit more explorative and searching for something meaningful to do with my time left on this planet. It seems of utmost importance to me that I use this time, the freedom I have earned, the knowledge I have collected, the skills I have acquired, and the drive I have to accomplish something, leave something or create a legacy of sorts that will make a difference in the world.
- After 20 years, I discovered taking anti depressants isn’t enough…I must change the things around me. I now do not need the anti depressants!