As my life careens at warp speed towards my 40th birthday (2 and half years seems right around the corner), I often contemplate the idea of age and getting older. People in my family tend to live for a really long time (90s, a few 100s, etc), and I’ve seen people age gracefully and not-so-gracefully. I think if you’re prepared that it’s happening – and manage not to be depressed about – you can actually choose which route you go down. I will do my best to age gracefully, and I think the first step of that is to stop being horrified about getting older and embrace the parts of getting older that are actually good.
For example, there’s a lot to be said for the wisdom that only age can provide. Not that getting older will make you smarter (if only), but that experiences you’ve had will teach you lessons about situations or human nature or all of the above. You get better at dealing with things. You stop wasting time on relationships that don’t matter and focus on the ones that do. I mean, sure, every day I am fighting a losing battle against gravity, and sometimes 2 glasses of wine will give me hot flashes in the middle of the night and a headache that would slay a walrus, but I’m trying to focus on the positive.
I remember the day I realized that the oldies stations are playing 80s songs from my youth. Indeed, I was so upset, I even wrote a blog entry about it. The other day on my way home from work, I found something very comforting about the fact that songs from my youth can be easily found just north of 100 on the FM dial in Los Angeles. Beyond the 80s songs, I also enjoy the 60s/70s songs they play, because my parents always had the local Boston Oldies station on (now defunct, RIP Oldies 103), so I grew up listening to a lot of older music. It’s like getting a hug from an old friend, and most of the time older songs will bring up a lot of happy memories, and who doesn’t like that?
Another thing I like about getting older is not giving a f* about things that don’t really matter. Remember being younger when so many things seemed like such a big deal, and it felt like your world was continuously ending? It’s nice to grow up and realize – none of that stuff is that big of a deal. And of the stuff that is a big deal, you’ll figure it out. I think some people get more nervous/anxious as they get older. Maybe I’m that way about some things, but I think my experiences have led me in a different direction. I often joke about my job, “No one dies if I do a bad job today,” but I mean it. It’s a nice job and all, but we’re not curing cancer over here. It’s nice to have that sense of levity about things. There’s a certain peacefulness that comes with it.
Don’t get me wrong – there are still a lot of parts of this aging process that seem totally unglamorous, and I’m not looking forward to them. But maybe by the time you get there, for the stuff that is truly gross like uncontrollable flatulence, you’ve reached another level of not caring where it really just doesn’t matter. I have sciatica. I’ve had a stroke and take blood thinners every day. Additional grey hairs seem to pop up daily around my temples. But it’s not so bad. If I ever start to get down about it, I’ll just crank up some oldies and lose myself in good memories.