Our Country is in Deep Trouble
When an Elder Must Stop Driving

The Gift of Age

My friend John Brandt (no blog, no link) sent this to me a couple of months ago and since then, it has arrived from about ten other TGB readers. It has undoubtedly been around the internet and email for a long time and many of you may have read it. But I rant a lot here about the culture of ageism and age discrimination and it’s good to have an antidote now and again. Thank you, John and everyone else.

The other day a young person asked me how I felt about being old. I was taken aback, for I do not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my reaction, she was immediately embarrassed, but I explained that it was an interesting question and I would ponder it and let her know.

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 (who looks like my mother or father), 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 a treat, 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 4AM and sleep until noon?

I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 50's & 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 jet 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 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 gets hit by a car? 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.

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.

- Author Unknown

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, kenju adds to her growing list of childhood reminiscences on this blog with Food Memories.]


Comments

This is wonderful. I am glad I am old -- I can't take the angst & trials of youth anymore!

That was really great and pretty much says what I feel also on the days when I stop to think about where I am, which I think we all should now and then-- whatever age we are.

I agree with you. I've read a saying somewhere that our ageing body is the price we pay for all the experience and knowledge we've gained. But ask anyone would they give up what we have learned and seen over the years for a younger body, chances are, very few would make the sacrifice.

My sentiments, too!

Amen to every single word. Until recently, I thought that I gained "authority" as I grew older. I now understand that what I gain is the right to be more and more myself.

What a great piece. It doesn't get any better than this. No angst over promotions or demotions, the latest unaffordable fashions, a new gizmo, or makeovers of face and figure. Thank you for showing us again, as you so often do, another facet of the beauty that our weakened eyes are often too blind to see.

I love this. This comes from a mature, wise person.

Amen! Amen! Amen!

You've said it so well. As I read this post, I had one of those "I should/could have said this" moments. I was much too hard on myself when I was younger, but I'm so glad I've lived long enough to realize that, and to forgive myself for not being a perfect human being.

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