I have a random hair that grows out the back of my thigh. It’s pure white, exceedingly fine with the apparent tensile strength of fishing line. When I first discovered it and plucked it using my sheer-horror reflex, it would have been an inch long.
Too much information? Should’ve warned you? Oh. Sorry.
I simultaneously felt intrigued and annoyed. I wasn’t even thirty and I already had my first physical evidence of aging. The first sign my DNA sneezed somewhere between ‘cut’ and ‘copy’ and got it slightly wrong. It has since begun turning my hair grey, strand by strand and although its barely noticeable to others, I’m on the verge of a ‘going grey’ classification.
But this wasn’t the beginning. The first sense I had of ‘aging’ emerged in a very out-of-character way. I watched an actor on television and thought he was cute. I can hear your apathy. What’s the big deal? Cute. No harm in that. Until I discovered our actual age difference. Geez. There were men out there too young for me* and what’s more, there were men out there who would consider me too old for them. At the time, I’m not sure what was more revelational, the fact I was aging or that I (who largely skipped the silly-about-boys phase) was capable of such a thought.
After I turned thirty, I resented ticking the ‘age box’ on surveys. Lumped in with anyone between the age of thirty and thirty-nine, it suddenly mattered I where my age fell and I sympathised with those forced to tick the ’60+’ box.
I read a tweet many months ago. I’m unable to credit this tweet (forgetfulness is, after all, another sign of aging) but it went along the lines of this: ‘Thirty years old today. Gone are my dreams of being a gymnast’. Although it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek it really does make a good example of age related regret. And as someone erring towards my middle years there are an ever increasing number of roads not taken. I won’t be an Olympian, a crew member on the Young Endeavour or pursue an acting career. My subscription to Possibility Magazine has expired and I’ve just signed up for Ships that have Sailed.
I cannot say I’m thrilled to be ‘aging’ but I neglect to understand why some people refuse to celebrate their birthday. As though not celebrating your birthday in some way prevents the passage of time. Sure, I wouldn’t mind being twenty-eight again, but I kind of think, ‘Oh well, let’s party!’.
Aging isn’t all ‘hairs out of the back of your leg’ and lamenting the loss of time. Aging has up sides. At the top, I am alive and healthy. In second place, I’ve gathered some wisdom. A close third, I now have some experience under my belt and I know me and all my shortcomings and strengths. I feel OK in my own skin. I am what I am. And still have the capacity to learn.
Let age be a number, it’s your spirit that’s important.
*That is by no means a judgement on relationships with a significant age difference, I’m all for a happy and healthy relationship in whatever form that may take.