This post could also be titled “13 ways of looking at getting old with apologies to Wallace Stevens,” but that feels really ambitious to me and the the first thing you need to know about me and old age? I am all about doing as little as possible.
There. Your daily wisdom nugget for the day: do little and then? do even less.
I am thinking another possible title could be, “for Susannah with truth and digressions.”
But I, uh — you know, digress.
I am old – 51 this month.* And, I have been asked to share my thoughts, lessons, surprises or anything else relevant to the experience of aging. This means that this post is likely to veer wildly into the territory of advice. I know, annoying as hell.
Rest assured, I have very little control about this.
It’s what old people do. We are compelled. It is a force beyond our reason.
Much like our need to hold the menu out at arm’s length in order to read it.
If I were not here to get all reflective and share my personal belief that time is simply a figment of our imagination, I would be telling you about how Imbolc brought her own ritual to my day yesterday with exactly no help from me, at all.
of her day and stay open to when / how
the magic would be revealed.
I share this with you (as I try to keep focused on the aging question) since this is a solid 180 degrees away from how my younger self might have planned the day. (Note the word “planned” — an illusion of control was often central to my early life experience).
My friend Noelle and I both celebrate our birthdays at this time of the year. (She turned 51 on Thursday thus, she is far, far more aged — days and days older than I am.) We have a tradition of getting together for play, silliness, epic amounts of gorgeous food and immoderate quantities of red wine. There may also have been a box of French macaroons that was scarfed in a most unladylike fashion, but you will never find any proof of that.
This my friends, is one way to get old.
I do believe that our long-standing friendship may be due, in part, to a shared belief that rambling conversation + coffee + dogs + bed is an exquisite way to start the day.
As part of our slow, impromptu morning we decided to head to the beach for a walk — without checking the forecast. Sure. Why not? Well, because we are old — so very, very old — we failed to account for the extraordinary fog that had rolled in and, more importantly, the fact that we were arriving at high tide. An exceptionally high, high tide, I must add.
What does this have to do with Imbolc? Well, I have gone to this very beach hundreds of times and never once experienced anything like this wild, mystical mist. It was like stepping into another world. And then? When we had finished our seaside stroll and went to head back to where we’d left the car?
Oh. Right. HIGH TIDE.
The path was knee-deep in sea water.
February 2nd in New England, my friends. We are both in ski parkas, hats, gloves and um, you know– boots. Alas, not the kind of boots a younger person might think to wear given that they were going to the beach in the middle of winter during high tide.
Why no. We were rocking the short ankle boots — suede (Noelle) leather (me) — that would be thoroughly wrecked by a three hundred yard jaunt through a knee-deep frigid tidepool. But here’s where it gets fun. Here’s where I had a lovely conversation with the goddess of Imbolc who had arranged all of this for us.
We took off those boots. We pulled off our socks.
Out with the winter, in with the Spring.
What has any of this got to do with the experience of aging?
1. No one can prepare you for what it will feel like to get old. Nobody. It’s a deeply personal experience and will be entirely yours– just like, you know, everything else in your life.
2. How you are living your life right now is the very best indicator of how you will feel 10 or 20 years from now.
3. Because guess what? It’s the same damn thing.
5. Do you seek to feel better, to enjoy more, to relax as much as possible right now? Do you practice gratitude and forgiveness (most especially of yourself)? Do you nurture relationships with fun and silliness? If yes, chances are you will really love the whole aging thing because in my experience, it’s like a rocket as it leaves the stratosphere, you just keep dropping off stuff you don’t need as you enter wild, new realms.
I can tell you *hand to god* I am the happiest I have ever been in my entire life and it has exactly nothing to do with any goals I set, any objects I own — it has everything to do with knowing who I am and what I love.
For me, it took a long time to get here– for you? I hope you can “get old” right now in that smokin’ hot bod of yours and enjoy this day and not spend any time thinking about the future. Just trust it’s all gonna be better than you could even imagine.
If you have to embrace anything, be a MISTAKE MAKER! Yes. Own it. Scribble it on a t-shirt.
That, and my absolute favorite litmus test for all questions in my life — I use it for EVERYTHING, large and small:
See? I told you this would end up in the advice column– ick. Sorry about that.
*do not even try to tell me 51 is the new 40 or some such sh*t.
51 is colassol, people. COLASSOL. And I am ALL IN. Bring it!