I’m not old. Ha! But, if a woman’s best years are between 39 and 40, I’m way past my expiration date. On the other hand, as Marianne Williamson said, “You might be depressed you’re no longer young. Be ecstatic you’re no longer clueless.” So there’s that.
“Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.” Charles Schulz
Life seems to go by at warp speed, doesn’t it? Maybe not when we were 5 but now, when we’ve definitely crossed the Rubicon, some days life seems to zip by faster than the speed of light. Mine was pretty much a chick flick; equal parts thriller, romantic comedy, and tearjerker. In fact, probably a lot like yours, give or take some weirdo special effects. Whether or not I love everything that flashes across the big screen in my head, it all happened. Both cringe-worthy or fantastic, the movie reel was my life and, hey, if nothing else, it was entertaining!
“Some day, we will all die, Snoopy,”said Charlie Brown.
Snoopy answered,“True. But on all the other days, we will not.”
Our desperation to hang onto the gold ring of youth says a lot about our inability to own up to mortality, wrinkles and the changing face in the mirror. In our grief over the inevitable transformation of our once dewy youth, we kinda miss the point. Owning our age, and all the stuff that comes with it, allows us to pass the torch to our kids, to younger colleagues with well-earned wisdom. It enables us to work on stuff we didn’t have time for in the child-rearing years, in the striving to break the glass ceiling or just to break even. If we want a new outlook on the birthday thing, we need a new narrative.
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? ” Satchel Paige
Who’s that kid in the mirror? Where is the girl we saw yesterday? Okay, yesterday was at least 15 years ago but hey, we weren’t prepared for the aged-out version of Dorian Gray. Still, there’s no magic youth wand to bring back our younger selves. Remember the last time you were in CVS, thinking you looked pretty damn good, and the guy who, once upon a time would have done a double take, only has eyes for the deodorant in his hand? Yea, that felt good. Still, even the best cosmetic miracle can uncover the beauty within; the beauty that only living, sacrificing, and learning brings.
Youth was a few birthdays back; okay, a few decades. So what? That doesn’t mean you hang up your curling iron or sparkly heels — if that’s your thing. Yes, there are plenty of pesky reminders we’re not in kiddy Kansas anymore. But, failure, as well as success, grief as well as love, all defined and refined us. Life molded every part of us, not just the parts of us we like.
“We are always the same age inside.” Gertrude Stein
Four years ago, my birthday brought a boatload of emotions. It was the first after my husband died and I was more somber than silly. As I mark this birthday, while I still miss that funny guy by my side, I feel more settled, and more aware of just how precious life is. There will be 3 more candles on the cake than my husband got to see on his, which proves the sad truth age is a privilege not everyone gets to have. He didn’t live to see retirement or my granddaughter’s wedding. My 19 year old brother never even got to celebrate a birthday with champagne. Dear friends who lost their battles with cancer will not see another gray hair or wrinkle. Life can never be understood and I wonder sometimes if we’d want to know.
“There is still no cure for the common birthday” John Glenn
Life is best lived one day at a time. We can either frame it in gratitude — or gloom. We can worry less about the amount of candles than the breath we still have to blow them out. And hey, senior citizen discounts ain’t a terrible perk.
In the video game of Life, this birthday might takes me to Level Badass. As Pablo Picasso once said, “It takes a long time to become young’ and I think I’m now squarely in the cool zone. Though I’ll be obsessing over my hair and makeup as they roll me into the nursing home, I care a whole lot less about ‘what people think’, and have more time to reflect, write, and learn new stuff (if I don’t procrastinate). I hope I’m more patient, aware and grateful. As we age, we hopefully understand more about what connects us.
The older you get, the better you get – unless you’re a banana. Betty White
So, here’s to you, birthday! And to my family and friends, all the sweet, caring peeps who’ve loved me through a lifetime of birthdays. To my fantastic adult kids and precious, beautiful grandkids, you will always be the Best. Bonus. Ever.
Birthday Banana? Booyah!