I Like Being Old! (9/29/09)

The other day a young person asked me how I felt about being older. I was taken aback, for I don't 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.

Older 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-but I don't agonize over it for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flat 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, extra big helpings of ice cream, for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement frog that I didn't need, but looks so avant garde in my garden. I am entitled to overeat, 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 until 4 am, and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 50s & 60s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love, I will. 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? 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 turn 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. I can say "No!", and mean it. I can say "Yes!", and mean it too.

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 the question, I like being older. 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.

For the first time in my life, I don't have to have a reason to do the things I want to do. If I want to play games on the computer all day, lie on the floor and watch old movies for hours, or don't want to go to the beach or a movie, I have earned that right. I have put in my time doing things for others, so now I can be a bit selfish without feeling guilty.

I sometimes feel sorry for the young. They face a far different world than I knew growing up, where we feared the law, respected the old, the flag, and our country. I never felt the need to use filthy language in order to express myself. And they too will grow old someday.

I am grateful to have been born when I was, into a kinder, gentler world.

Yes, I like being older!