25 July 2012

I am not just a number

I have, on purpose, not written much about growing older in the past. I thought that maybe others aren't as interested in the process of ageing but I've been thinking a lot about it lately and if ordinary people don't write about how it feels to grow older then how will other ordinary younger people know that it is something to cherish and to look forward to? Seeing our 1976 photo on the blog yesterday jolted me into some sort of common sense. That was who we were then, we are different now. Both are good.

I am in my mid-60s and even though I've slowed down a lot I really only know my age when I see myself in the mirror, or when I look at Hanno. I am proud of my age, I'll tell anyone who asks, and I've never really understood the reluctance of some to tell their age. This is part of me. I own everything I am - including my age. I am not just a number.

I clearly remember teasing my mother and father about being old and forgetting things. I am at that stage now and if I don't write down what I need to know, I often forget it. I used to have an excellent memory so this forgetting thing is one of my ageing regrets. I also get tired quickly now. I still have the energy to do what I want to do, but now I have to put aside time to recover too. I've just had a busy two week period where I worked every day doing various things. Today will be my rest day. I'll do a quick clean up and then I'll sit down with my knitting for most of the day. Hanno will be out having his eyes checked so it will be a quiet day here and I'll take advantage of that.

My health has always been good and remains so. My blood pressure and cholesterol are good, I don't take any medication and most days I feel fine. I think that for me, sleep helps to keep me healthy. Whenever I don't sleep well, I get a cold or a cold sore, or I can't concentrate enough to do my work. As long as I get  enough sleep, I'm ready for anything.

But there are so many other things that I have to be thankful for now that have come with the increasing years. I feel I'm finally understanding how I fit into the pattern of my life and all the lives I'm connected to. I feel more confident now to do whatever I want to do and if it doesn't suit everyone, that doesn't bother me. I feel much more generous now than I ever did before and I'm much more inclined to give rather than take. 

There is no expectation of perfection, in fact I cherish the imperfections - they seem more human to me. I am more forgiving - I can see the reasons why some things happen; but I'm also more unforgiving. I'm not prepared to accept underachievement, meanness or intolerance and will challenge it when I see it. I see beauty more clearly than ever before, and more often. Silly things make me laugh now and tenderness makes me smile. 

I've finally reached the point when I feel okay about doing whatever I feel like doing. There is this new freedom to be discovered in older life. People's expectations of you drop considerably. We're not expected to keep up with everyone else so we live at a slower pace and I can tell you that life in the slow lane suits me just fine.

But the thing that I love most of all is that freedom to use my hours exactly how I want to. I've put the days of frantic work behind me, my needs are meagre now, my ambitions have changed and no longer have dollar signs attached to them. My ambitions now are to live well, to be part of a fine family, to lead my family by actions rather than words, to do no harm and to enjoy every day.

I have friends who really hate being older but I've accepted it and I think I enjoy life more now. Let's face it, it's much better than the alternative. If you are lucky enough to age, you're a survivor because the only alternative to ageing is death. And even that makes sense to me now.
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