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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Age is an issue of mind over matter

If you don't mind, it doesn't matter. ~Mark Twain

As some of you may remember, I turned 39 on 12/21/10.  This would now qualify me as a member of the "39 Forever" club, provided there's anymore room in it. 

Having hit this "almost milestone", I occasionally find myself spending a little more time looking in the mirror  than I normally do.  At the risk of sounding narcissistic, it's more to check for the onset of potential gray hair or lines around the eyes and mouth than it is to gaze longingly at my pristine reflection.

After all, isn't that what "one does" when you "get to be my age"???

A few nights ago, I got together with a dear friend for a drink.  He and I have known each other for close to six years now.  As we chatted about "getting older", he commented that I haven't changed at all; that I look the same today as I looked back then.  I smiled and thanked him for the compliment (and no, he didn't follow that up by asking for money). 

Thanks to my parents and some good living, I haven't really changed all that much.  However, it's what you don't see that has.

Perhaps, more importantly, the changes associated with getting older are more internal than external.

Let me explain.

I've been noticing some changes in my behavior/personality, particularly in the past few years.  I've included a short list below in no particular order of importance (remember what the first "R" of my blog stands for):

  1. People's opinions of me don't matter that much anymore.  I was always clamoring for people's approval my whole life, whether it was from my parents, my teachers, my friends or my boss.  What they all thought of me took precedence over my own self-concept.  The older I get, the more in tune I'm becoming with my own inner guidance.  I don't make choices in my life to please others nearly as much as I used to.  There is a fine line between being a compassionate, giving person and a wishy washy doormat.  Pro to aging.
  2. I'm more comfortable in my own skin.  This is kind of related to the first category.  Since I don't care what other people think of me like I used to, I don't treat my body like a trophy or show piece to garner attention from the peanut gallery.  So what if there is a dimple or two on my thighs or an extra couple pieces of "laundry" shielding my washboard abs?  I'm strong.  I'm healthy.  And I'm pretty sure I can still turn a head or two.  Not that I've noticed, mind you (see #1).  Pro to aging.
  3. I'm becoming more private.  As long as I can remember, I've been the sort of person who loved to be the center of attention.  I'd tell anyone anything they wanted to know, no matter how well I knew them.  Now, I've become weary of small talk.  With the exception of my penchant for blogging, I'm not okay with divulging information about myself to casual acquaintances.  I just don't want to talk about myself to people that much.  I'm drawing a more tangible line between my professional and personal lives.  Maybe I'm becoming masterful at the art of setting boundaries.  Or maybe, I'm just getting ornery.  Possible "con" to aging.
  4. I enjoy being home.  I used to be a busy bee in my late teens and early to mid twenties.  My days were chock full of appointments, nights out with friends, work obligations and other social activities.  I was always running from here to there in a frenzy.  There was a certain restlessness to my spirit and I thrived on this chaotic way of living.  Now, I couldn't be bothered.  I love my friends and I derive a good amount of satisfaction from my job.  But, I don't need to take on the world and have a full calendar anymore. I don't like to go out on weeknights, as a general rule (in the case of the friend mentioned above, I gladly made an exception).  My idea of an exciting Friday night is cozying up on the leather sofa with a glass of red wine and my kindle.  And I'm okay with that.  Or maybe I'm just old and boring now.  This could be 50% pro and 50% con to aging.
  5. I can be still.  For as long as I can remember, my life has been a process of searching for something, anything, to show me meaning and purpose.  Is it the right career?  The right religion?  The right relationship?  I assigned all kinds of responsibility to external factors that I had no control over.  Through meditation and self-study, I began to realize that my purpose is joy.  Not only that, I am the only person that can make me happy.  I can't expect anyone else to do that for me.  Now that I know, all the other areas flow much smoother.  Because there are no expectations.  They are bonuses to me.  They enhance my life dramatically.  I appreciate my relationships and my material blessings immensely and realize just how much I have to be thankful for.  But, I am 100% complete without them.  I learned to sit with myself.  And I liked it.  Pro to aging.
So, there you have it. 

Just some random ramblings about things that aging has shown me.

Gray hair and facial lines?

Well, my friends, they only tell part of the story.

The years teach much which the days never knew. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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