Getting old isn't hard. Not for me anyway. Do you know what was hard? Being young, stupid and scared with no skills or support. Now, that was scary! When I was young everything was a crisis; I couldn't see around the next corner. What aging has given me is perspective, the long view, the wide angle. With some millage on the old meter, the set-backs and failures don't bother me as much; been there, handled that. It may not be easy but I know from experience that I'll get through it. That doesn't mean I don't have problems and crappy days (oh, yeah) but they don't morph into full blown catastrophes. And yes, some of the sparkle (OK, a lot of the sparkle) has worn off but so have the fear, the panic and best of all -- that nasty habit of comparing my insides to other people's airbrushed outsides! The hormones and the flirting have also declined but so has the drama -- thank god! What has increased is more compassion for myself and others along with peace of mind and a sense of freedom that I never knew before.
In my twenties I had lots of colorful adventures (it was the 1960s and I was living in Europe) but I didn't have a clue as to who I was or what I really wanted. Instead, I tried to be what other people (mostly men) wanted; that didn't go well, to say the least. My thirties and forties were spent working hard and building a business. I owned a restaurant (and at one point two) and on one level I was thriving but there was never a moment's peace or any semblance of balance. Something shifted in my early fifties when, after twenty years, I sold my restaurant and was forced to reinvent myself. But it wasn't until my late fifties that everything began to come together. I started doing work I loved (writing and astrology) and although it wasn't without challenges, it was consistent with who I was inside. Like the third act of a play, my crazy story with all its twists and turns finally made sense. My sixties were a total and utter surprise; for the first time in my life I felt truly content and I've never, ever been a happy person. It was as if the meds (or in my case the meditation) finally kicked in. And that has not only continued but has actually gotten better. Who knew?
It doesn't happen automatically. You have to do the work. I'm talking about the Inner Work: facing your problems, taking responsibility, making peace with yourself and others and of course, the big F word: forgiving. It's a lifetime process as far as I'm concerned but if you stay with it and continue to grow and heal then there's no reason why this theme won't continue as you age. Because here's the bad news; if you don't it's not pretty. Old attitudes, grudges and regrets are more toxic than burgers and bacon and they harden more than just the arteries. On the other hand, making a conscious choice to be happy and feel good - no matter what is going on is probably the single most empowering thing you can do for your health, your emotional well-being and your complexion and it doesn't cost a thing! I only learned this in my late sixties but that's the benefit of getting older; it takes time to grow into yourself and become the person you were meant to be.
Look, youth has a lot of great qualities (more stamina, better skin, and a future that seems limitless) but some things it will never have, like experience, wisdom, and self-knowledge. I'll take the liver spots and wrinkles any day. So what if I'm no longer be as perky and polished on the surface; at least I know who I am. It's taken me a long time to get here and I wouldn't trade it for all the botox or beauty in the world. Life is too short for bad coffee and it's too precious not to let go of those things that keep us stuck and playing small. So live juicy, dare greatly, forgive generously and celebrate yourself, your life and your age.