Well, I am now in my (ahem) late 30s. At this point, I can no longer classify myself as “young” unless I’m in a room with all octogenarians, and I can’t even pretend I still fit into the coveted 18-34-year-old demographic, even if I do know all the “cool” shows on Netflix and Amazon. I am officially middle-aged, no matter how you slice it or how “young at heart” I feel. It’s fiiine. There are a whole slew of benefits to getting older, so I am told. I’m not lamenting the fact so much as just acknowledging it publicly.
Still, I find it hard to wrap my brain around this “aging” phenomenon. I mean, when I look in the mirror, I don’t really know what age I see. I just see, well, me. But there have been moments lately when I’ve realized, it’s happening. I’m definitely getting older.
You know the writing (or shall I say texting?) is on the wall when:
1. You start having trouble distinguishing 18-year-olds from 25-year-olds. They all look so young (and have you seen what kids are wearing these days??)!
2. You realize that all you really crave is a chance to sit and read your newspaper in peace and quiet. That’s it.
3. You insist on wearing earplugs at spin class. Your ears will always thank you afterwards.
4. You jump at the chance to vacuum. And you relish the experience.
5. You catch yourself saying things like, “All the young people are doing it,” and then cringing afterwards. It’s embarrassing, OK?
6. You realize that there were no cell phones when you were a kid. There was no email. No iPads, Androids, Wiis…essentially you grew up in the Stone Age!
7. You routinely use the phrase, “Well, when I was young…”
8. You wonder, “What exactly is Instagram?”
9. You turn the TV on specifically to watch the weather station.
10. You know what it means to “feel” your knees…and your back…and your eyes.
11. You see your bathroom not as a place to do your business, but as a little spa getaway, right in the comfort of your own home.
12. You congratulate yourself when you’ve taken a run/sneezed/laughed really hard and managed not to pee in your pants.
13. You analyze every menu by first mentally ticking off the foods that give you heartburn.
14. You hear yourself regarding clerks and salespeople like young children: “You are such a doll,” or “What a gentleman you are.” Who says that?? Oh, I guess I do.
15. You feel much less inhibited about your looks and your hair.
16. You feel much more inhibited about your looks and your hair.
17. You are increasingly comfortable stating what you want and why you want it.
18. You now appreciate that every decision you make bears some element of risk, especially making no decision at all.
19. You know that even when you fall, you will get up again, because at this point, you have fallen many, many times.
20. When you think about your children and how much you love them, you fret over anything ever happening to them and you start to cry.
21. When you think about your parents, and how much you love them, you fret over anything ever happening to them and you start to cry.
22. You think about your life, and you realize that 18 was both a blink and a lifetime ago, and so much has changed, and yet so much has remained the same.
23. You can look in the mirror and know that you are worthy—of love and kindness and praise.
24. And you can look at your life and know that you have accomplished something incredible, no matter how different it may look from the lives of those around you or how different it may be from the life you once imagined. It’s yours and it’s extraordinary.
Remember: Moses was 80 at the start of the Exodus. Sarah was 90 when she gave birth to Isaac, and Abraham 100! Our tradition teaches us that, opportunity doesn’t diminish with age. The older we get, the more open doors we discover!
Fellow sojourners on this course called life, we may be getting older, but we are surely getting wiser and stronger. We understand relationships and the precious nature of love more than we ever could at 25. We know what it means to cherish each moment and we know how to radically embrace all we’ve been given. So, we forge ahead together, growing up and growing older, and dare I say, better with each passing day.