Growing older has advantages, of which I admit to exploiting each one. Like senior coffee, being able to say, “I’ve forgotten your name.” without guilt and faking poor hearing to eavesdrop.
Oh sure, there are times when I search for my glasses with one pair on my head and another hooked from my neck, and others when I’d wished I had written down the reason I climbed up those stairs. I have learned to laugh at those moments (I’ve learned to laugh at a lot).
I remember when I awoke each morning in anticipation at what new adventure that day might bring. I recall running joyfully in the fields. But childhood days gave way to adolescence and I soon awoke with the uncertainty of the semi-anxious years.
Admittedly I then found the Bay of Pigs less important than if my pink sweater was clean and Khrushchev weighed less on my mind than Billy Arbuckle. I fretted about my appearance… worried how well I fit in and what my peers thought of me… when, no doubt, they were worried about exactly that too.
Every adult told me with certainty that, “These are the best years of your life.” And I thought to myself, you mean it gets worse?
I can’t tell you all the stupid things I did in my twenties (no, I really can’t tell you). Because those were the days before my brain was fully formed… you know… when I knew everything.
It’s not so much that I enjoy growing older as it is a relief that I’m no longer young. I have no parents to appease, no pressure to marry and have babies. My days are my own, unencumbered with “Mom, take me to the Mall.” or “Hurry up, we’ll be late for practice.” Now I can bask in the deliciousness of an afternoon nap, leave early from baby showers and no one ever asks me to help them move.
It’s freedom from the expectations that permeated my youth. It’s choosing which pictures to remove from my album and learning the fine art of selective memory. And as I sit here watching my cataracts grow I realize there’s advantage in being able to remove my glasses when a softer view on the world is preferred, like moving into an Impressionist painting at will.
I still possess hope for the future. I choose to keep love in my heart. I bask in the smell of a lilac, get lost in good music or poetry and marvel at the color of the sky. I liked these just as well when I was younger but I appreciate them so much more now.
Would I trade this bum hip to run in the fields? Maybe, but only for a day and I would not trade the peace that I hold in my heart for one minute of the angst I felt as a teen.
No, these are the best years of my life because I have the ability to make it so.