I’m home from an extended period of hard work, the kind of hard physical work that I have not had to do in a while. I have not exactly bounced back. I am tired and I am feeling, well…old. There is nothing startling about this, my next birthday is the big four-0. What is startling to me is the feeling of relief that is accompanied by feeling older.
Whatever philosopher taught knowing thyself as the highest goal was on to something. With age I know that I hate rollercoasters, prefer not to drive, don’t enjoy shopping, and love the library. And I am just scratching the surface! Age has given me the awesome by-product of experience, and though I dare not think that I can handle anything, I no longer brace myself for the worst. I do not have it all figured out, but have made it through the struggles of learning new jobs, inconsolable babies, balancing parenting with work, the weariness of caring for the ill, and the heartache of being unable to help someone in need.
When I am distracted by certain aspects of age – creases, veins, unfamiliar parts of my own body – I am reminded of the comment, “it beats the alternative”. I look forward to an incredible afterlife, but I cling to the life I have now. I have held a baby that never got to breathe outside the womb, watched my father suffer a long illness and death, gone to a funeral of a family member my own age, and seen depression take away the desire to live. I can’t help it – I am grateful for this day.
And yet, I am tired. My body seeks to betray the agreement I thought we made to stay the same. I feel almost 40 – no, sometimes I feel more like 60. But instead of spending much time looking in the mirror, I will avert my gaze. See what I mean?