Next month, I will have a landmark birthday. Sixty. Do you want the bad news first, or the good news? I'll give you the bad news first. Sixty. The good news? The Early Bird Special at IHOP. Senior discounts at The Kimbell Museum of Art. Another year closer to receiving the Social Security and Medicare that I've been paying for my entire adult life, assuming that my erratic (definition: deviating from the usual or proper course in conduct or opinion) lifestyle will allow me to live that long. The respect of the younger generation, who now consider me to be a mature, sophisticated, woman of the world...a wise old crone, with all of the answers to life's most baffling questions. Questions like, "is it better to be aged like a fine bottle of wine or a good, stinky, French cheese than to be young and hot?"
The answer? "Yes and no." At fifty-nine, I'm more intelligent, more intuitive, more interesting, more focused, and less of an emotional hot mess than I was at twenty. I'm more confident, more content, and less reactive to criticism. I can take what life throws at me now on a daily basis with minimal drama. There are people who would laugh at that last statement, but only the ones who weren't around for the circus that was my life at twenty. I've come a long way, baby....
But...and it's a big but...my life is more than halfway over. Actually, closer to two-thirds over...possibly three-fourths over...hard to know. Had I not been the partying, live-for-the-moment, sugar junky, meat-eating carnivore that I was for the first fifty-nine years of my life, I might go with slightly halfway over. Whatever, I could die tomorrow eating greasy onion rings, drinking sweet tea, and texting while driving to work.
The truth is, I do mourn certain aspects of the loss of my youth. I miss jumping out of bed in the morning and being able to stand up straight immediately. My hair is turning white with alarming speed. I gain weight when I look at food, and I look at food a lot. The frown lines between my eyebrows need spackle. I actually saw my tricep fluttering in the wind while I was driving with the window down. No, aging is not for the faint of heart.
I have learned a few things though, and I would like to share with you these pearls of wisdom that I have gleaned so far from my stint on Planet Earth...
Learn the difference between cautious and fearful, relaxing and boring, organized and anal, and curious and stupid.
If you see something beautiful, interesting, and/or profound...stop...and really look at it. You might never see it again.
When you think your life is boring, get over it. Life is never boring...You're boring. Turn off the TV, get up off your butt, and DO something.
When someone criticizes you...before you get angry, pout, or run out of the room crying...really think about it. Was their criticism valid? Maybe it was, and maybe it wasn't. But don't just go with your knee-jerk reaction...think about it. You might learn something about yourself.
To quote Woody Allen - "Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering - and it's all over much too soon." So stop sitting around feeling sorry for yourself...one day you'll wish you'd made better use of your time.
Life is a thousand times more bearable if you can laugh at yourself.
Unconditional love, and tolerating abuse from a loved one, are not the same thing.
Self-love and narcissism are not the same thing.
Don't ever think because you are able to talk, go to work everyday, make money, and worry and obsess about life, that you are smarter than your dog.
A kindle will NEVER replace a book.
When you travel to a foreign country...dine on their cuisine, try to speak their language, wander off from the tour bus, and immerse yourself in their culture. If you can't do that, you might as well save your money and go to Branson, MO instead.
And last, but not least...when you look in the mirror every morning...regardless of whatever age you are at the moment...regardless of the laugh lines, the gray hairs, and the flabby triceps...be grateful for what you have...what you know...who you are. And love...love...love. Love life. Love others. Love yourself! Be curious! Be adventurous! Relish your life with wild abandon...it's all over much too soon!
I'm off to IHOP! C