Writing’s been a bit of a struggle of late.
Not the writing that pays the bills. Although, that’s been a slough too, to be honest. I read lots of cool newsletters and emails about writing newsletters and emails. They help. They add skills or ideas or just gumption.
You can do stuff with gumption.
I have a secret writing process I’ll never fully disclose. It involved random choices and brainstorming and generally thinking within rules I set for myself so that I can think outside the box. Well, it probably wouldn’t make much sense to describe anyway.
Mostly, it involves creating a conversation with you.
Yes, I mean you. So when I struggled to write this post, with thoughts of my dad, dying at age 49 – just two years older than I am now – I thought, I’ll just sit down and talk with you about it. I found a random title generator to give me a start, and here we are.
Five reasons you should fall in love with aging
1-YOU KNOW MORE STUFF
A senior with four years’ experience can go toe-to-toe with a talented young gun. A high school senior, that is, in soccer. In life, as we become more senior, well, experience amounts to something, too.
So too is the realization that we have much, much left to learn.
Maybe that’s part of the knowledge of having knowledge. That we don’t know everything. I’ve learned more in the past year than in the past 10. I don’t think my brain or spirit was ready for that 10 years ago.
2-YOU’VE BEEN THROUGH SOME STUFF – AND LIVED TO TELL
Losing a job.
Losing your temper. Losing your wallet (a few times.) Losing your grip. Losing your innocence. All those losses, unless you’ve lost your life, you have a day-after from. A day to react and reflect. To sink or swim, to learn from it or embroiled in bitterness.
Lessons from losses have taught me a whole helluva lot more than those when winning.
3-WORRYING LESS ABOUT HOW THINGS WILL TURN OUT
Maybe because you know more stuff, and have been through more stuff, you worry less about how stuff will work out. I’d say roughly the ratio of what happens to what might happen is 1:325,092,092,447. Roughly.
At my age, I worry less if I’ve made the right choice because I’ve followed my instincts to make my choices, from which Medium post to read to what toppings to order on my pizza – or I’ve simply left it up to fate, and I’m good with that.
“If not this, then this,” is a thing. I know if I don’t get this job, I’ll go for that one. If we lose this game, we’re in this place. And you go from there. There’s not much time to worry when you have a new set of challenges constantly filtering through.
Anyone want to buy three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures – good condition, but with their weapons missing?
I didn’t think so. I’ve clung to Doug Decenzo baseball cards and busted up Star Wars figures long enough. I want space, not stuff. Or at least, I want the space the old stuff takes up so I can get new stuff.
So if you want my Samurai Donatello or random 1988 Donruss cards, you’ll have to hit the Goodwill on Albemarle Road.
5-YOU GET TO KEEP ALL THE OTHER AGES YOU’VE BEEN
I’m that 12-year-old boy wonder who wanted to bring back dinosaurs. I’m the high school freshman who won first chair baritone saxophonist. I’m the high school senior who won a $500 scholarship for a writing contest – sponsored by Doritos.
I’m also the unemployed guy and the kid in summer school for English (my teacher failed me because she didn’t believe I wrote my term paper) and I’m the guy who struggled as a husband, dad, writer, non-writer, Christian, citizen, and coach.
I’m all those dudes. I’m also a collection of his ideas, triumphs and success stories. I have many, like a set of Encyclopedias! That’s a lot. It helps me now as I meditate or parent or coach or write. And it helps that I know what a set of encyclopedias used to be like, too.
What’s your reason for falling in love with aging?
Kim’s post on aging helped inspire this post.
Hi Eli. Because I get to eat more pizza and learn more. I also had a set of Encyclopedias. It was must read. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.
Yes! I wonder what a set of encyclopedias goes for these days.
Maybe 75 dollars. 😦 A limited edition could get you a thousand.
Mine would probably be missing the S and W.
Hubby bought a set from the library – $10. I’m pretty sure 5 years from now, there’ll be $10 worth of dust on them. 🙂 I threw out the Encyclopedia Britannica cds last year.
In 50 years, we’ll be talking $12, minus the dust? There’s something to be said for nostalgia, isn’t there?
Thanks for the reminder.
I’m appreciating getting older because I don’t worry so much about what other people think of me. Or rather, I should say not so self-involved or foolish enough to think that their thinking about me at all. I put more stock into my own opinion of myself and my choices rather than obcess about other people’s. Of course I fall and fail daily but at the end of the day as long as I can go to sleep feeling okay with who I am at my core, I’m good with that. Nobody’s standards for me are higher than my own so I don’t worry about if other people like me, I worry about if I do.
Something else I find a little comforting about getting older is not being so concerned with physical appearance. Don’t get me wrong I still want to be fit, healthy and look like someone who takes a few minutes to present their best. But I find that the need to compare and size myself up with others is drastically diminished. I don’t find myself dwelling on whether I’m rocking a six pack, if my face is as smooth as a Georgia peach, or if the grey hairs are now outnumbering the others. Once you get to a certain age you come to a place where it’s a given that you’re not going to ever look like that 25 year old in the sporty little car beside you anymore. It’s kind of refreshing to make peace with that fact and instead take stock in and value the less superficial things that make you the divinely unique and wonderful person that you are.
But most of all I think the thing I value greatest about getting older is the stronger need and desire to BE rather than do or have.
Be more mindful and present, more compassionate, generous, kind, loving, vibrant, graceful and courageous.
To Be a person living with meaning and on purpose. Someone who has a fuller understanding of how short and precious human life is and in that understanding chooses to live with more intention.
Self actualization becomes more of a priority. Serving others at our highest ability becomes more of a focus than accumulating worldly posessions. The need and desire to leave this world a little (hopefully a lot) better than you found it. I love that more of us become more “we” centered than “me” centered as we grow older.
Yes, my eyes may sport a few more lines and my midsection is definitely a good bit softer. But it’s quite okay because my mind and my heart are both fuller and wiser and that’s a fair enough trade to me.
I love this comment. Self appreciation is a milestone. To BE rather than to have is key to that. i even hope to give gifts that reflect that, rather than more ‘stuff.’
I don’t lament that I didn’t know all this earlier; I simply wasn’t ready. Full minds and hearts are hard-earned and well-appreciated.
You have to at least accept ageing, because it’s inevitable.. If you can’t accept it, you’re going to have a hard time!
Why fight it? It’s actually a good ride.
I love all of this and fully embrace it. I’m in the midst of simplifying and downsizing my life as we speak )
It’s a beautiful place, isn’t it? I love the energy you’re generating over there, Beth.
Great post, Eli. Acceptance of self is a powerful base from which to launch the rest of our lives, yes? I’m sharing this with my adult sons. Good stuff here.
Thanks, Carrie. Acceptance is one thing but also loving who you are, that’s something else. I am honored you’ll share this with your sons! Thank you.
I was actually talking with Hubby yesterday about this very topic. Now we’re watching our children wrestle with some of the big-picture topics we addressed in our 30s (particularly regarding child rearing and education). When we were going through it we thought it was all SO important-in retrospect it wasn’t.
What an interesting perspective we get from this age, right? But wrestling with those things will put them where we are now. The obstacles aren’t on the path; they ARE the path.
Two things, the first of which is a little bittersweet. I have far too many friends who passed away at way younger ages than I am now; aging is a blessing they don’t have, and we don’t have the blessing of their presence.
The other came when I turned 50. I realized I was half a century old and, frankly, didn’t give a damn what anyone thought of my choices anymore. I have more than earned the right to do what I please so long as it doesn’t hurt me, anyone else, or frighten the horses.
When younger friends die, it’s an awakening for us. We can fear it or we can appreciate our own existence. Maybe a little of both.
Freedom to be who we are can come at any age, but it’s especially significant as we get older. We’ve explored the alternatives, haven’t we? And we choose to love this.
What a bra post this is, Eli. I’m so sorry you lost your poppa at such a young age 😥 there’s nothing further to add there—I’m just sad to hear it.
I remember that toy you found at Target. They need to be fed round the clock, but especially at midnight, right?? Or never feed them at midnight? 🤔
Anyway I think about this often: my own mortality and how senseless some of this really is. But also how much I wish I could freeze frame the most important moments in life. Do you think one day, when this is all said and done, we’ll have access to our lives best moments?
Thanks, Charlotte! Thanks for the kind words about my dad … I love that I am (and his grandkids are) his living legacy, and that gives me some comfort.
The thing is, that toy didn’t have a shelf location or anything. It’s like, it didn’t belong there. So I backstocked it. And now, it’s not there. What fresh hell is this?
I just hope some of the senslesness leads to something sensible, like, puts me in the path of something sense-worthy. Does that make sense? I feel like the remarkable moments in life leave a bit of an image, but more so, a feeling, and when you hold onto that, it’s more vibrant than anything by Kodak.
Instead of a highlight reel of those moments, we become the culmination of the moments that defined us.
“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.“ — Mark Twain
It’s nice to be at an age where you don’t much care what others think about your choices.
If Mark Twain says it, I generally listen! Old life is a carefree life.
I definitely love the experience that comes with getting older. I remember being a teenager and thinking I was brilliant, and how I’ve learned that I wasn’t at all. Haha! Also, I totally had felt some nostalgia with these pics!
Love that you appreciate it, Lecy. We learn so much after we think we know it all. I’m stealing that from a quote!
I bet you were digging that Gizmo …
I’m struggling to love this getting older thing.
I have this tiny little crease that is forming on my forehead (and it doesn’t even go left to right, it goes up and down for Christ’s sake. The nerve. No amount of bangs will cover that stupid thing). But it’s the first thing I see when I look in the mirror these days.
Like I said, the nerve.
I’ve never really liked myself that much, I’m shameful to admit. So getting older seems to amplify everything. I’m less patient with myself. I speak poorly to myself. I’m unkind to myself. I focus on things I’ve always hated and kind of hate them more.
Getting older meant I had the opportunity to become a mother, and fortunately I gave birth to one of the best children on the planet. Me? Biased? Of course. I think I have every right to be. Because every day that little girl is so damn happy to see me. She tells me I’m beautiful. She tells me I’m amazing. She tells me she believes in me, and that I should believe in myself, too.
So if that’s the trade-off I had to take for that stupid crease on my brow, I think I’ll take it. That line will one day blur into many that will form there.
Maybe then I’ll finally be over myself.
The one we need to protect ourselves from is us, isn’t it Core? I’d have a stern talking to you about you. You’re all kinds of awesome. To have the support of your own kid isn’t a given. Z’s a smart cookie. She knows good when she sees it. (She’s probably a Rockies fan, too.)
A kid like her (with a mom like she has) totally trumps a crease. Totally. Take it from a dude with one singular gray eyebrow hair!
I don’t think a person gets old until they’re 103, or they stop learning. I too like to keep all the ages I have been. As I get older, and hear other people complain about their own ageing, I kinda don’t because it’s a privilege to get older.
I’m 38, and I recently asked what other people wanted to do before they turned 40, and someone they’d wish not to be 40. I know they were maybe joking, but it’s one of the most depressing things I’ve read in a while. Because life is actually beautiful, and more of it is a good thing.
Anyway, thanks for making me think, Eli. And I’m sorry about your Dad.
I lrearn something every day, Lorna. Usually the hard way! Getting older means you’ve survived, doesn’t it?
Forty is awesome. I am 47 and could kick my 23-year-old’s ass. Physically and by wit. We should get free cookies for making it this far.
Happy to hear this made you think … and I appreciate the sentiment about my dad. I’ll be thinking of him especially on Sunday.
I sometimes wish I could be who I am and right where I am but 32, so I’d have more time and energy to do all that I still want to do! It just means I have to push harder and plan faster, and enjoy every moment. I took my blue hair, my tattoo and my boys and we rocked hard at a rock concert Saturday night. I’ve suffered since but it was worth it!
At 32, you couldn’t handle the wisdom you have now, Jenn. I agree about enjoying every moment, but not always planning faster and pushing harder.
The moments are sometimes in blue hair at concerts, and sometimes they’re shunning a task because you just want to be.
And if it’s worth it, it’s worth it!
Many tx for the wonderful uplift 🙂
I find the same on your page!
There’s a heap of wisdom in your post and in the comments. You mention one blessing of age that I don’t hear often: wanting less. That lightness of being extends to the stuff that we own. What a relief.
Thanks, Rachel! Wanting less feels so liberating, doesn’t it? Who knew. Wish I realized that earlier, but I’m grateful to have now.