The core of who I am hasn't changed one bit since I left the womb; I am who I am, and will probably be who I am until I die. All the parts of me that were there in childhood - the good parts, the quirky parts, and even the sharp edges - are still there. But somehow, over time, even those pain-inflicting bits of my personality have become... less painful. I'm still socially awkward, but I can laugh at it now. I still don't dress at the top of the fashion food chain, but I've stopped getting dressed for other people in the morning and thusly, love my wardrobe. I am aware that there are still people who don't really like me... but I no longer care. Essentially, my skin has become a very comfortable place to live.
But even with all of this... comfort, I am still quite fascinated by the aging process. Here are some thoughts I've had lately on the subject.
1. Age, as definitive as it is, doesn't always preclude character. Some people are as mind numbingly naive at 60 as they were at 25 - some people, at 60, know more how to be young and lighthearted than those at 17.
2. Think about the last time you held or saw a baby. Do you remember the baby's parents? Beaming, proud, and hopelessly in love, weren't they. Somewhere in your parent's hearts, they still feel the same way about you as they did the day you were born.
3. Regardless of how old we get, it is still easier to give advice then to take that same advice for ourselves. Think: body image, relationships, finance.
4. They say a wrinkle in time saves nine. I have no idea what that means. How about you keep your nine and take away my wrinkles?
5. When it comes to getting old, you see what you look for: if you focus on the grey hairs and the saggy butt and the joint stiffness, you are going to hate turning one year, five years, 10 years older. But if you look instead at all the extra chances you'll have to enjoy a quiet morning or a sunny afternoon, well, I'd guess you'll enjoy aging a whole lot more.
6. This is an obvious one, but I'm saying it anyways. Your life doesn't care how old you are, and it certainly isn't going to wait for you to get going before it starts running down the clock. Catch up. Do something with yourself.
7. It is a scientific fact that men become men at a much later age nowadays than they used to; something like 10 years later in fact (thirties, instead of twenties). It has to do with the grey matter in their brains and when it develops. This explains a lot.
8. I was in the waiting room at the doctor's office a few months ago, sitting patiently on my chair in the corner. A few minutes into my wait a very, very old couple came slowly up to the nurse's desk to check in. She was bent over a walker and her outfit was printed in floral, he was dressed all in beige and wearing a brown plaid fedora on his head. He held her arm as they shuffled along, checked in, and came to sit in the chair beside me. This man, who must've been in his 90's (and his wife the same), still looked at her with the eyes of a strong young man. I actually blushed because I was so taken aback by his obvious love for this woman, and tried to take mental notes as I watched them from the corner of my eye. It wasn't just the way he looked at her and it wasn't just the way she let him help her sit - passion and grace and humility exemplified in twos - it was their age in combination with all these things; it was the fact that they were in their 90's and they got it. When I am that old, I hope I'm still alive as they were.
9. In so many ways, I'm not at all where I thought I'd be at my age. But in so many ways that matter, I've far surpassed my expecations. I think that's the key to enjoying that yearly mark on the calendar: do something productive, goal oriented, and enjoyable with the other 364 days a year and your birthday will be a celebration of another year gone by instead of a lament for wasted time.
10. Wine and cheese get better with age, so I hear, and even in their older stages they still get invited to all the parties and people really really like them. Do yourself a favor and assume that you get better with age, too.