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Getting Older - Ugh!

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  Great.  One more dumb year older.  My balls are practically in a race to my ankles.  If I watch the lines on my face carefully enough, I can see a full-time crew at work digging them deeper.  Where did all my hair go?!  Wait—there it is….. I didn’t know hair was supposed to grow there….  Aging must be Mother Nature’s practical joke.  I can picture her sitting back, stirring her celestial cocktail, laughing at our entropy.  What a bitch.

So what do we do?  Fighting it seems the first instinct.  To put on creams, dyes, change your diet, dress younger, inject things, try elk velvet, shark cartilage and choke down dump truck loads of kale.  We’ll do anything to hide the inevitable passing of days.  We scrape and claw at the sand in our hourglass, desperate to try and force it back up through the siphon.

Why is this?  Why do we bemoan birthdays so much?  Remember when we used to celebrate them?

Is it the clichéd passing innocence, the lost age of romance?  The wistful freedom of youth that is so beyond long gone?  The corruption of unbridled optimism?  Or do we just hate that we’re one year closer to the graveyard?

Pass the prune juice, please.

Maybe we’re treating life like a piece of fruit.  Where with every bite taken by time, we have less to share, less appeal, less value.  No wonder we’re depressed.  What if life was more like painting a picture?  Sure there is excitement behind a blank canvas, but no one pays a million dollars for a blank canvas.  Only a sucker pays real money for mere potential.  The value comes with every line, each stroke of the paintbrush, every act of concentrated effort, all the mistakes and do-overs.

I remember who I was a decade ago.  Impatient.  Restless.  Selfish.  Man, if I could give that asshole a talking to.  I could have hurt fewer people, probably lived with a bit more intention.  But I can’t talk to him.  He’s gone and the damage is done.  But there is something redemptively beautiful in the permanence that experience teaches with.  I’m happy that that younger me isn’t around anymore, but someone completely different, standing on the mountain of his past faults and mistakes, using them to see farther, took his place.  I paid for that.  It cost me a decade.

Wisdom comes at a cost.  Every rebellious battle cry, every lonely hour, every unanswered prayer, every earned tear, every scolding, every humiliating change in direction and fresh start.  But the payoff includes peace....  And man, isn’t that priceless?  We used to admire, lean on and cherish our elderly.  Now they are usually forgotten, sitting lonely in nursing homes, all of their wisdom lost to a distracted generation.

So stop shelling out huge pesos on whatever witchcraft potion is promising you beauty.  Forget that.  You’re only trying to slow a speeding train down anyways.  Digging your heels deeply into the dirt isn’t going to do anything--except exhaust you.  Instead, climb on board.  Focus on the direction of the train, the view from the window and on the other passengers—especially the ones who have been on the train for a while.  They know stuff.  Good stuff.

The next wrinkle you find shouldn’t be met with regret, fear or disdain, but with a smirking victory nod.  “I EARNED you, you glorious little rut.”  We don’t need more beautiful people in this world.  We need more people of depth.  More interesting people.  The wrinkled, bald future makers scarred with the beauty of risk, and the depth of experiential wisdom.  Would it be nice to look amazing while conquering the world?  Sure.  But make sure it’s not distracting you from the REAL work that has to be done to provide value, raise good children and run strong lives.  Because confidence wears better than any of the latest fashions.

O, to be found on our last day, content.