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The Goldilocks Principle

I’ve heard many times that age is all in the mind. As I near the beginning of my sixth decade on this planet, I wonder what idiot made that up. Age is in a lot more than my mind. It’s in my joints, and my muscles, and my attitudes. I find myself saying things like, “when I was young,” and “when I was your age.” I call people younger than me “honey,” and I shop for flats because I can’t wear high heels anymore without my feet staging a coup. When oh when did I get old…ish? And, now that I’m there, how do I feel about it? Do I even care?

What a stupid question! Of course I care! I care that I can’t touch my toes anymore, at least not without getting stuck down there and having to watch TV between my knees. I care that when I get up out of a chair it takes a few seconds for my joints to unlock so I can move a leg forward. I care that my eyelids droop, my nose is getting bigger, and I’ve got spider veins crawling up my legs. Yeah, I care, but there’s not a whole lot I can do about it without looking like I’m doing something about it. I choose to forgo the tummy tucks, facelifts, and botox injections because (a) I don’t like elective pain and (b) time will eventually catch up with me anyway, so what’s the point? The two classes in Economics I had in college taught me just enough to make me realize that I don’t have sufficient resources to waste trying to look like time makes no difference.

I’ve watched other women struggle with it. There are those who seem to be living in a decade long gone, and others who decide to accept the inevitable earlier than they have to; they know it’s coming and choose to meet it half-way if only to get it over with. I don’t want to be like either one of those. For once in my life, I’d like to be average, in the middle; not too warm and not too cold. Just right. So, incurable optimist that I am (and since I’m backed into a corner with no other way out), I’ve decided to decide that aging has its advantages.

For example (and this strikes me as incredibly ironic) the less time one has left, the more time one finds to spend. I used to be too preoccupied with raising a family, holding onto a job, and keeping mold from growing in the toilet bowl to think much about doing anything else. Now, I have options I didn’t have before, like writing a book (yeah, right), or exercising more often (yeah, right again), or maybe even giving myself voluntarily to causes I have no vested interest in. When I was younger, if I gave anything to anyone, it was purely out of the need to prevent one more ball from dropping, because if it did, I’d have a bigger mess to clean up. The point is, now there are choices I can make that carry consequences much less severe than whether or not my kids land in jail.

I can agonize all I want to about how I’m physically falling apart, but aging is really a natural, God-given process that seems to be more character-driven than anything else. I may not lose all the insecurities I’ve taken great care to develop all my life, but they just don’t seem to be as life-threatening as they used to be. I find that as I’m aging, I’m becoming more at peace with myself, with others, and with life in general. I’m easier to get along with…not out of fear of losing a friend or my mother finding out that I hit a kid in school and grounding me for six months, but because I’m more content with who I am (and who I’m not). I’m more self-confident, and less concerned about being right. At least more often than I used to be.

Yeah, aging definitely has its advantages, and I’ll keep telling myself that until the day I die, at which time, incurable optimist that I am, I shall decide to decide that dying isn’t such a bad deal, either.

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