Oh how time flies…
Unless you’re serving it, as they say.
I entered the second half of my century last November. When I was in my early twenties, 30 seemed old. Fifty seemed downright ancient. Yet, here I am zooming closer to my 51st birthday.
I don’t really feel old. Except…what was I going to say?
I don’t really feel old except for that annoying (to others) tendency of repeating myself, unsure of whether I said what I had to say in the first place. And repeating myself again (did I say that already?).
I don’t really feel old…
Except that a long, somewhat menacing strand of hair will crop up where no hair had been ever before in my life—where no man or woman should have hair, much less just one lone, taunting hair.
Except that gray hairs bloom from my eyebrows, sticking straight out like tiny acupuncture needles.
Except the young man in checkout didn’t card me (and I haven’t been carded in at least five to seven years except for the time I was in sunglasses and short cutoff jeans). And he called me “Mam.”
How can I be old…
How can I be “old” when I can run six miles and jump over things, tripping only occasionally because I’ve always been a bit klutzy.
How can I possibly be old when I remember my birthday in Kindergarten as if it was only 20 years ago instead of 45; it’s when I met Susie whose birthday is also on the very same day and whose mom and dad I still see every couple of years because they made such an impression on me that I still want them in my life.
How can I be “old” when I have a 14 year old son who burps in my face, close-up? When so many other people who are 50 have at least one grandchild? (Some would debate whether grandchildren make you older or ignite a certain youthful glow.)
What is old except a mindset?
Okay, so I do freak out at times like when I realize that in 10 years I’ll be 60 and then in another 10 years I’ll be 70…then comes 80! And turning 40 seems like less than 10 years ago so I’ll be 70 in the blink of an eye at which time I would officially be considered old by the world and possibly (definitely?) by myself.
And what gives me the right to even attempt to define “old” and the negatives aging conjures up when my neighbor who is 14 years younger than I and mother of four beautiful, active children, fights for her life every moment of every day because she’s fighting cancer? A woman whose bright blue eyes are those of a warrior, even now as she lies in hospice hooked up to breathing and feeding tubes, and who speaks from a place of undeterred rebellious strength and determination and sheer will to cling to every moment because it could be her last on this planet?
And what is “old” to me when my own 53-year old brother has been in prison for the last seven years of his life with, potentially, five more to go? For whom time ticks in slow motion as he awaits the day when he can walk out the front door a free man.
I am free. I can hug a loved one this minute or tomorrow or whenever I need it if I really want to. I can pet my cats or sit on the couch under an afghan and surf hundreds of television channels and run outdoors on a nature trail in silence or while listening to tunes from the 80s.
As the distance between myself and my oh-so-youthful 40s (had I only known!) grows, I will let go of the fact that it’s the last of anything. Instead I will embrace my own beginning—the second half of my century—just like any other moment and any day of any other month of any other year.
This is a moment unfolding. And so is this. And this. Stories have yet to be told.
As my dear friend Meg says:
Hold on and enjoy the ride.
Author: Lynn Hasselberger
Editor: Travis May
Image: Flickr/Samantha Marx