I am 47-years-old. I recently realized that I’m past half-time. If I were a Gordon Lightfoot song, my title would be, “On the Fall side of Life”. Not the summer. Some of you will get that. Some of you will say, “Gordon who?”. And those of you saying, “Gordon who?”…you are the ones who should keep reading. For the rest of you…I’m telling the secret we all know.
Who knows how I landed on this subject. Maybe it was the “gray hair” conversation I recently had with a dear friend that I’ve shared everything with for the last 32 years. Maybe it was the the realization that I’ve had a best friend for 32 years. Maybe it was the “down there” self-examination that took place after the gray hair conversation….
But I’ve been thinking a lot about aging.
The manuals on aging are good at telling you how your body will react to this process and how to relieve the symptoms of aging, how to take care of yourself, and what your various medicinal choices are, complete with pros and cons.
There is one thing the manuals don’t tell you.
They don’t tell you that your soul will never catch up to your brain.
You can look in the mirror and see the evidence that you are not 22, but as soon as you leave the mirror, your soul will forget. And not only that, but your soul will take over when you are shopping for clothes, listening to music, dancing in your kitchen or anywhere else, talking to your kids, or having dinner out with friends. Let go of your mindfulness for one second, and your soul will take over at the wheel.
Your soul doesn’t get it.
This is why you sometimes will prance by a big store window wearing your recently purchased stilletos and cute capris, or maybe some fashionable peg leg jeans and flats, or, in some situations, your favorite ironic t-shirt. Whatever it is that you are wearing, when you left your house you felt comfortable. But. Without any warning whatsoever, your peripheral vision catches a bit of light, causing you to turn your head toward the window, where your eyes take in, and immediately transfer to your brain, a horrifying truth.
You may feel 22, but you sure don’t look it.
And you know this. Jesus H. Christ, you KNOW this. You look in the mirror every morning and see your face. You know your birth date. You know your childrens’ birth dates. You can recite every line of Moon Dance. You are that guy who shouts “Freebird” at concerts.
Well, hopefully, you are not that guy. But when that guy shouts “Free Bird” you laugh and think, right ON, brother!
Your soul is non-apologetic. It wants to hear Free Bird. But it also secretly enjoys Lady Gaga, and that yearning for a meat dress is how your soul gets you every time.
Your soul will punk you out like no tommorrow any chance it gets. Because…
Your soul will never accept that it is aging forwards. It only goes backwards.
Your soul may settle at 30 for months, trying to hang out at Starbucks and nail down the complicated lingo, but suddenly, you’ll be at a Flower and Garden show and some guy will be demonstrating remote controlled helicopters. Your brain will register that remote controlled helicopters really have nothing to do with flowers or gardens, but your 4-year-old will be running after that helicopter with a maniacal laugh, throwing up his arms, and talking to everyone in the quickly gathering audience, looking at the remote control controller guy like he is God, and suddenly everyone in the crowd that has gathered to witness the joy of being four IS four, including you. And suddenly, you don’t want a complicated coffee drink, you want that helicopter. In red.
Of course you immediately buy this $60 piece of modern robotics technology, like the impulsive 4-year-old you are, only to soon realize that it doesn’t really work well with your 8-foot ceilings, and it is not really a toy for a four-year-old, even though he will be single-minded in his pursuit of the remote controller until you finally get exhausted and say it is broken and hide it, only to bring it out at a gathering of your also old friends months later, whereupon all the men in the audience will revert to the age of 4 and want a turn, and all the women will sip their cosmopolitans and giggle about how immature men are without ever really getting that their cosmopolitans, which feel so naughty and hip, just like Carrie and her posse, are already as antiquated as the Manhattans our mothers sipped back in the day when their souls were 30(ish). Actually, Manhattans are cooler, because they are retro. I picture hipsters sitting around drinking Manhattans and showing off their cherry stem tongue tying skills. At my next party, I’m definitely serving Manhattans, and maybe, also, that drink involving mashing bitters withs sugar and stuff. What are they called? Oh yeah, Old Fashioneds. Anyway, hopefully, your four-year-old is asleep when this all takes place. Particularly, when someone gets the idea of climbing into the hot tub, which, if you have one, will certainly happen, after helicopter flying and cosmos.
But I digress. Back to my soul. I mean your soul. I mean, I hope, our souls.
When you were 22 in real time, did you swear that you would never be one of those women that didn’t age gracefully? That wore skirts too short, or heels too high, or a hairstyle that was too young? I did. I was sure that I would be a woman who would accept the passage of time gracefully. Get a sensible bob. Accept my changing body. Give up all my vices. I expected this all to start happening around 40.
At my fortieth birthday party, thrown by my many siblings and parents, I wore a white t-shirt and levis. I remember a carved-wood necklace ensemble of which I was especially proud. My hair was past my shoulders and heavily highlighted. In the photos, I’m grinning excitedly, surrounded by family, clutching a bottle of Budweiser (not in an ironic way) and wearing a trucker hat announcing that, hey, I’m 40. But really? I was 20.
Because that is just the way my soul rolls.
World, take care of your soul. Except for the occasional store window come-uppance, there is not really a downside to feeling young. Particularly when you consider the alternative.