I am relishing growing older.
Truly. I’m not exaggerating.
I am not just tolerating it; I am not just enjoying it. I am savoring it.
Delighting in it.
Reveling in it.
Luxuriating in it.
I am quietly but gleefully surprised by the gifts that keep appearing in my elderhood.
Gifts like perspective.
A deeper gratitude.
And discovering that some of the most meaningful things that I’ve learned have come through disappointment and suffering.
I remember when I turned 50. At the time, on the outside, I was playing it cool… like it wasn’t any big deal. On the inside, it was killing me.
Now I understand for some reading this might be thinking that if you are in your 50’s you are still “young” but all my life I considered “50” as being at the threshold of being “old.”
On my birthday that year, I wrote a long and serious article that I have never published. It began, “I hate being 50!” That really covered it, but my dismay and my angst about becoming “older” demanded much more than four salty words. I filled several pages with my recriminations and my growing awareness of the impossibility of stemming the tide and the gross unfairness of it all.
Even as I slowly made some uneasy peace with my own aging over the next few years, I still lived in tension with the realities of growing older and older… and older.
I was a billboard for the worst prejudices of ageism. Secretly… I worried about becoming incapacitated, dependent and invisible. I had little good to say about getting older.
Then, some months after I turned 55, I began realizing that I was falling in love with life in a whole new way.
After a lifetime of working hard to live a good life, gaining some wisdom in both my successes and failures, I found that with age came changes that I had not anticipated. They just – appeared, surprising me with their quiet and mysterious arrival.
So, it was that the changes that surprised me, that subtly arrived over time, became gifts that I hadn’t expected; gifts that I hadn’t found by searching for them. Delight had quietly found its way into my life over 55 struggling, questioning, wondering, longing years.
And it was delicious.
Now, in this newly refurbished life, having now reached 57, I relish the deep, quiet calm of my spirit.
It’s a calm that I cannot manufacture but which is simply there. It is the foundation of most of my days, unlike those days which used to be too full of angst and insecurity and indecision. This amazing calm is not just deep; it is deeply grounded, rooted firmly in the soil of experience and reality and my longing for a greater peace of mind.
I relish the enjoyment of sharing the long histories that I have with family and friends. I am fed by our telling the stories of our lives together, laughing and sighing and smiling and sometimes weeping over every “Remember when?”
Our stories, so long a part of who we all are, have become a healing balm for the soul. And the stories tell me who I have been, the good of who we have been, and the oh-not-so-good places that sometimes scarred our souls.
Regret and forgiveness have become comfortable companions in my life.
I relish the discovery that few things frighten me now. I have been to the depths and survived. I am more resilient now, softer around the edges.
I know from experience that grace lives in the midst of suffering and loss.
I relish the deepening gratitude that has, I suppose, been with me always in some ways. Yet it was so often pushed to one side when life disappointed me and when I failed myself and others.
With the coming of a few physical limitations and hearing loss, I have had to make a choice: complain and grovel about my health issues or smile (even laugh!) at how good life has been and how good it can still be.
And I relish the new hunger that I have found for discovering who I am yet to become. My purpose on this earth is far from done. What quietly profound surprises await my discovery?
Ah, the possibilities!
I recently learned that when you turn 60, the next 10 years are said to be the second happiest decade of life. And that the 70’s (believe it, or not) are the first!!!
So, I’m going to relish as much in these years as possible.
And I don’t think I’ll ever pass through that threshold and consider myself “old” maybe… just growing “older.”