Feeling one’s travels in time.
Feeling my age? What does that really mean? Yet we use this term frequently. I catch myself saying that I don’t feel like 70. How would I know? I have never been 70 before. Maybe this is what 70 feels like.
What are we referring to, actually?
At times I think that it may be the internalized image that we have of whatever age we are thinking about. I remember, when I was younger, what I thought the age 70 looked like. It was old. Now I question how much I added to that image from my own internalized ageism.
I am working on listening to my own version of 70. My own feelings about where I am in life, this age that I have been lucky enough to get to, and how I am doing right this moment. Easier said than done at times.
There is another part of feeling my age. I notice that I don’t jump out of bed as I did before. Never had a second thought about that before. Now checking how the joints are doing and what I need to move first, then second, and well, you get the idea.
I now think about how to step into my slacks. And to make sure that I am close to a piece of furniture in case I need assistance with my balance. When did that sneak up on me?
I look at my hands, seeing the age reflected there. I have never been the type to get manicures. I use my hands way too much for that, and use them for messy things like painting. Now I see the veins being more prominent. I remember looking at my mother’s beautiful hands as she aged. I see the wrinkles and crepiness. I laugh at the creams they advertise that will supposedly remove crepiness. I’d have to take a long bath in that cream, probably every hour.
There are external messages that also contribute to feeling my age. Standing next to a young woman that I volunteer for (she is the primary zookeeper at the zoo where I volunteer). Hearing the teasing and flirtation from some men coming toward her and feeling completely invisible next to her. I remember when those comments would come toward me, and I took them for granted. When did that happen?
Walking down the street and feeling more invisible. There can be pros and cons to this, but it is still a bittersweet experience.
Helping other members of the art association that I belong to hang some art, and watching the younger members quickly jump in to step up on the ladder before I can get there. Feeling some relief at that.
Watching myself walk more slowly down any hill, not as sure of myself as before. Aware that falls can come easily and before you even know what’s happening.
Forgetting why I walked into a room, or what I was just about to say. And at my age, now wondering if this is a beginning sign of the dreaded D word. Dementia. Is this the beginning of it? What is normal aging? None of this feels very normal to me.
Feeling my age emotionally. I am closer to the end, whenever that may be. These days I go to retirement parties and funerals, not so many weddings and baby showers.
Feeling the need to declutter and travel lighter. Feeling the need to plan for my final arrangements. What an interesting way to put it, final arrangements. Planning your own funeral, burial, and who to give what to if they want it.
Thinking about whether to get another pet. I am older, and I would need to make arrangements should the pet outlive me. And do I have it in me, if the pet dies first, to handle another loss that felt so devastating? The loss of a pet is the loss of a piece of your heart. And it goes on and on, at least for me.
Feeling my age. For me, this seems to include feeling everything more acutely. Being more sensitive to all that is around me. The earth, its creatures.
Thin-skinned now seems to refer to more than just the skin covering me. As it bruises and tears more easily, so does my spirit when I feel the pain of anything around me. But this bruise of my spirit is a bruise that does not weaken me, but rather strengthens me to feel it all, to be able to contain it all, and to offer more empathy, understanding, and compassion. To feel all of life fully. Dark and light. Bitter and sweet. And to be wiser, at my age, to know that one must feel it all in order to live fully and passionately.
Feeling my age? Oh, yes. In so very many ways. Some I seemed to grow into consciously. Some caught me, and still do, by surprise.
I am grateful, albeit wistfully at times.
I am grateful to have lived long enough to reach this stage of life with its lessons. I am grateful to still be breathing and be on this earth. I am grateful for all the poignant, achingly beautiful aspects of ageing and of life.
Feeling my age. Oh yes. Wrinkles and sagging and slowing down…oh my. And wisdom and humor and gratitude. Oh yes.