Monday Musings….The Wonder Years are Gone

Call it denial, but I just discovered last week that I’m old. I returned from the gym and flopped myself down on the couch commenting on how hard the class was. “I don’t know why I can’t do the bear walk, I mean I am pretty close to the ground as it is. Why is it so hard for my body to do that?” My husband, the kind man that he is, asked about the other people in the class, and if they found it as challenging as me. And then he asked an innocent question, that then revealed my reality…”So, who’s the oldest person in the class?” I paused for a moment, well more than a moment as it hit me. I was the oldest one!

I’ve never been the oldest in any group I’ve belonged to. I’m the youngest in my family; the youngest in my husband’s family. I take great pride in the fact that I was the youngest in my university classes. That pride grew as I celebrated in my head that I was the youngest at several of my jobs. Even when I go to birthday parties for 70-year-olds, I am still the youngest. I guess, I just took it for granted that I would always fill that role.

Now, it’s not that I believed I would be perpetually 21. In fact, as many know, I never wear make-up, so wrinkles are very obvious. I know I’ve earned them from years of furrowing my brow and concentrating on figuring out people’s problems. My hair is more salt than pepper. And I’m proud of that, mainly because it’s so cost effective :)

I actually like getting older. I’m getting ever closer to enjoying senior discounts, and I welcome that extra change in my pocket (in line with my comment about not dyeing my hair). But I’ve always believed there were multitudes blazing the trail ahead of me on their scooters. I never considered myself to be part of that tricycle team…yet! Alas, I am now an elder. It’s just that I’m not quite ready to have the word ‘elderly’ roll off my tongue!

When I think about aging, what hits me is the reality that even now there are things I will never be able to do again. Or if I try, they just won’t come with the ease that they did in my youth. I’m beginning to realize how that sand in the hour glass of time is dropping grain by grain, and that I can’t simply flip time over and start again.

This is confirmed every time I play with my grandchildren who have boundless energy; who never seem to fatigue when we are running up and down the hallway or playing at the park; and who can contort their bodies into flips and tricks, like the Stretch Armstrong action figure from my wonder years.

It’s a fact that decay and pain are part of the human condition. From the moment we are conceived, we age. Our arrival on earth is marked with the pain of going through the birth canal to the exposure of unnatural lights, strange sounds, frigid temperatures, unsavory smells, and fabric and flesh that don’t match the buoyant bed we lay in for 9 months. No wonder we all crave sleep, no matter how old we are! We want to go back…always…in time…to that peaceful place.

Alas, growing pains are universal and they are inevitable. No matter how old we are. It’s my reality and it’s yours too! But until that last grain of sand reaches the bottom of the hour glass, there’s still time to be flexible. Only it may not be in the form of Stretch Armstrong, more like Fetch my Armchair. And that will require me checking my pride at the door. You know what they say though, pride comes before a fall. I just hope I don't break my hip when I go down! :)

Five for Fighting put out a great song a few years back that highlights the milestones through the lifespan. I’ve played it several times over the years in my classes on human growth and development. But lately it has taken on even greater meaning, now that my 'half time has passed me by'. The song is called 100 years. Check it out!

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