Wednesday, September 19, 2007

An antidote to the 12 year-old Australian runway model {LINK}

The other day a young person asked me how I felt about being old. I was taken aback, for I do not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my reaction, she was immediately embarrassed, but I explained that it was an interesting question, and I would ponder it, and let her know.

Old Age, I decided, is a gift !

I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometime despair over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my mother!), but I don't agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon?
I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 50,60&70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love ... I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set.

They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day. (If I feel like it ...! )


  1. You sure are WISE, Web Woman!

    What a wonderful post with plenty to think about.

    I promise I will fall back on it to quote to my friends.

  2. Ah yes, growing old disgracefully - a wonderful idea, but one I haven't grasped yet. Either I'm not old enough or I still have too many responsibilities or I'm just too tight-arsed. But hopefully a few years down the line when I'm more my own boss and have more time on my hands I can relax and follow your splendid example. Certainly as I get older I'm a lot less bothered by other people's opinions, partly because I'm increasingly aware of the fallibility of all opinions.

  3. GM:
    Yes in this younger and younger world we need to be reminded of the joys of aging!

  4. Nick:
    Having lost far too many friends, each year I behave a little more disgracefully. For instance, I'm heading back to Newfoundland tomorrow and people ask me when I'm coming back. And I answer "I don't know". well, they say, are you coming back for Christmas? "I don't know". Exasperated, now - well you must know your future plans, for God's sake! "Could be Mexico for a month, could be the Outer Hebrides, I don't know."
    And I don't. And there is such enormous freedom in that. And I really don't know. Disgraceful isn't it?

  5. I worry about getting old, and by that I don't mean a number, I mean not being able to do the things I can do now. Or being dependent. So in my opinion you are not "old". When I say old I mean someone putting a nappy on me and putting rash cream on my folding bits and under my boobs, not being able to shower by myself or wipe my bottom. That's what is daunting prospect of being really old. I would like to leave before it gets to that stage really. Also getting old in this world where youth is everything, as a woman, I think it will make me feel insecure. It was really an eye opener to read your thoughts on it. I have to do some thinking now, to avoid any unreasonable stress and depression in the next 20 years or so.

  6. Hi WWW

    Gorgeous stuff you! My mother, (who at 78 is far more glamorous than I could ever aspire to be), found a creative outlet for that natural inclination after she was widowed at the age I am now. She retrained as a makeup artist after my father died and had a twilight career in film and TV, retiring as the head of makeup in a metropolitan TV station after eleven years.

    No one's asked me how it feels to be old yet. Maybe it won't ever happen. As far as I know, my mum wasn't ever directly asked that question. But these days, people are more open in personal inquiries. I anxiously await.


  7. Hello Gaye and thanks for sharing your thoughts and fears, that takes courage!
    It seems trite but it is true, to take each day as it comes and not worry about future incontinence, it may never happen :>) I try and do that, just be in the moment and not worry about being dependent. I think at some point I will draw up an agreement (with kindred spirits) that we will assist each other if and when necessary to depart this mortal plain. A stockpile of happy pills, perhaps. But only if a fully paid up member of the drool and widdle set.

    It's a thought, right?

  8. Pants:
    How inspiring your mother is! the most inspiring person to me is my mater-in-locum (mother of a dear friend who is very precious to me) who is nearly 91 and visits the elderly to cheer them up and teach them oil painting and occasionally she shares articles aloud out of The New Yorker with them to keep their brains busy. Most are twenty years younger than her and she refers to them as "the poor old things".
    Reinforces yet again how it is all in the mind, right?

    I think to any sixteen year old we are oooooooold.....:>)

    Though interestingly enough my almost 13-year-old granddaughter takes extreme offence if anyone refers to me as 'old'. I'm her "Homey-G" I guess that's pretty cool.....!!

  9. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant dear www. Thank you for the wisdom, at times - correction, most times - I need it.

  10. Thanks to blogsphere small world has gotten even smaller.

    WWW, I have just received a forwarded email from a translator friend of mine, we have never met face to face, but we both work as freelance translators and we have been chatting for years now. He is in Turkey.
    His forwarded e-mail had this exact post you have written here. It quoted it and said must read. I think it was posted (copy paste) on the forum that he is a member or, graduates of the same school we have went to, TED ANKARA KOLEJI, in Ankara, Turkey.
    I wrote back to him and told him that it was such a surprise because I am a regular reader of your blog and gave your blog address to him so he can read other posts as well, since he liked what he read so much that he forwarded it to me. Only, I read it first! *chuckle*

  11. Gaye:
    The blogworld is now tiny ---- I am very flattered. I write for a magazine as well and am amazed at times to find myself quoted - although no attribution, of course!

  12. Oh that's a good point! Attribution. Never thought about it for that e-mail I got, I was just excited about the coincidence, and the fact that it made it to one of my old school mates' inbox in Turkey.

  13. Very inspiring, WWW!
    Too many people get miserable as they age. Embrace yourself and live, that's the way!

  14. Medbh:
    I'd rather slide into the ground sideways when all is said and done, thoroughly used up and grinning from ear to ear through my well earned wrinkles than, as the old saying goes, "died at sixty, buried at ninety".


Comments are welcome.

Email me at wisewebwomanatgmaildotcom if you're having trouble.