Thursday, May 22, 2008

Have a nice day sir...

The other day I was at the store and at the checkout, the "youngish" person bagged my groceries, handed them to me and said, "have a nice day sir." It's not the first time someone has called me sir, but this time it just hit me a little hard. I was taken aback a bit for I do not think of myself as as a sir, heck, I'm only 44.

Old age, I decided, is a gift. I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. I'm in the best shape of my life, but I sometimes despair over my body -- the wrinkles that are starting to appear on my face, the baggy eyes. And, often I am taken aback by that old person thats starting to live in my mirror, but I don't agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, and my loving family for less gray hair or a faster 5k. As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that latest and greatest piece of equipment that will transform my ordinary bike splits into the extraordinary. I am entitled to overeat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I've have a few friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read until 4 a.m. and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 70's, and if I at the same time wish to weep over a lost one, I will. I will walk around the pool in a speedo that is stretched over a masters body, and will dive in with abandon, if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the bikini set.

They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten -- and I eventually remember the important things. Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break, when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers through an illness? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair start turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver. I can say, "No," and mean it. I can say "Yes," and mean it. As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've earned the right to be wrong.

I like being older. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be.

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