Over the past year or two, probably due to my ongoing health issues, I've been forced to confront aging in a way I'd never foreseen when I was young and fit. Most people my age (62) are still working jobs, working out, traveling, etc., while I stay home, except for the rare excursion out.
Hashimoto's Disease makes it impossible for me to allow myself any kind of adrenalin spikes whether good or bad. Stress is stress and happy excitement makes me just as ill as disruption or discord. Confrontation can send me to bed faster than anything so I've learned how to avoid it altogether. And I just plain tire out faster because I have zero physical endurance where once I had absolute gallons of energy. Consequently, I'm learning to let things go, be patient, and forgive. This isn't something I do trying to be a better person, really, I just don't like to be sick.
The one thing I haven't been able to exercise this patience and forgiveness with, and which I haven't been able to let go of, is aging itself. Not other people's aging; everyone else can get older and have my complete support and admiration, but me? No way, Jose! I'm still 26 doncha know! That's all well and good in its way—true age really isn't anything but a state of mind although the body ages and eventually gives out—but acting 26 cool when one is 62 isn't cool. Acting 62 cool when one is 62 is cool.
Case in point: Did you watch Ann Wilson's performance of Stairway to Heaven at the concert honoring Led Zeppelin? Did you notice the regal cool that Jimmy Page (Page the White, as Nettl and I like to call him) exhibited? Here's a man who will turn 70 next month, watching someone he admires (who is 63) singing a song he co-wrote in an utterly perfect cover, and he's wearing a small, appreciative smile, the wisdom of a life fully-lived gleaming in is eyes. That's cool, not banging his head while guzzling a bottle of Jack Daniels as he might have done decades earlier. That's what I'm talking about.
"There's nothing as pathetic as an aging hipster."
I'm going to embrace who I am regardless of my age. I've come a long way in this life and I have a lot to share, a lot to give. I'll no longer be looking at my role models of 35 years ago as if we're all still in our twenties. I'll look at who they've become, how they've evolved, and what they've accomplished. Likewise, I'm doing the same with myself. In simple terms,
"There is a superhero inside each of us.We just need the courage to put on the cape."
Yes, I know. Some of you came to this when you were quite young, but I didn't, and that's my circus. And if you're under 40 I'll wager that you'll come to a new, revised version of it when you reach your sixties. I refuse to compare anymore and, if people do so in hope of making me feel bad about myself, feck off. It really doesn't matter to me anymore. I'm no longer hurt by them, frightened of them, or moved by their low opinion of me. Feck off. That's the strings of the cape I'm donning. The cape itself will display a large crest with "OC" — Older Cool. Cool is, after all, only the ability to be true to oneself while not accepting anyone else's conflicting, erroneous opinion.
Growing old gracefully has nothing to do with whether you color your hair or go grey, get cosmetic surgery or opt out, or if you give up or continue to wear blue jeans or over-the-knee skirts. It has to do with carrying yourself grace-fully, extending grace to others in all kinds of situations, and most importantly, extending grace to yourself.
"Experience is how life catches up with us,
and teaches us how to love and forgive each other."
That's growing old gracefully, that's cool, and that's my New Year's resolution.
I wish for you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year, and may 2014 be better than the best year you've ever had!