Not Cease from Exploration

Friday, April 24, 2009

On Growing Older

It's one of those impossible things in life to describe, but yet here I go trying. What am I talking about? Well it's growing old. You see I have a birthday coming up, and on said birthday I will be 45 years old. Statistically speaking, that means that I'm more than half-way to being dead. Now there's a positive thought to start the day with if ever there was one.

Anyway, so what does it feel like to grow older? Like most things in life, the answer is complicated. However I can gleam a few thoughts that I'm willing to share in this PG rated environment.

  1. You get smarter and want to do more, but your body gets weaker and can do less. Amazing, huh?
  2. Your body's tolerance for abuse decreases, sometimes dramatically. As a kid I could eat like a madman and never gain a pound. Now I have to watch what I eat and I still get gastrointestinal distress.
  3. You do figure some things out. One of the bigger things I've kinda/sorta figured out is that there are some troubles you encounter in life that you just have to let roll off you. I have a far better sense as to which battles should be fought, and which should be walked away from.
  4. You learn not to care as much about certain things (related to #3). I remember back in high school being so concerned about what I said, how I sounded, etc. Man, did I ever blow it back then. I've learned to be just me, for me. Those who accept you are "true friends"; those that don't, well that's okay too.
  5. You learn to stop and see and smell the details. There is nothing more amazing than lilacs blooming in May. There is nothing more interesting that some old architectural detail sitting on top of a building that most people never see.
  6. You learn that caring is a currency...and that you always need to spend it wisely.
  7. You learn that there really are things that are more important than you...having children helps in this regard.
  8. You learn that it's one step at a time, for everything.
  9. You can see who the real friends are in your life, and who was there in the past just for the ride. I don't have many friends, but what I do have I know would be there in a second for me.
  10. You learn that not everything that's broken can or should be fixed (related to #3). This is especially true with people. I have people close to me who suffer from mental and physical health problems, and in as much as I'd like to grab then by the should and scream "Stop doing that to yourself! Don't you see that you are killing yourself!" I've learned that that kind of change never comes from outside in...it's always from the inside out. And sometimes that kind of change never comes about.
  11. You learn the value and beauty associated with helping, purely for the sake of being helpful.
  12. You learn that your body parts, like car parts, will rust if you don't keep using them and maintaining them.
  13. You learn the value of persistence. I could never do my job at work if I had to do it all at once; fortunately it comes in manageable chunks.
  14. You learn the inherent value of failing, losing, getting "screwed". Yes, I did say "value". It's easy to look at a victory and just see the good, but failure tells us much more. I've learned far more, and been made a far better person, from my failings in life.
  15. You begin to learn that growing older doesn't necessarily mean you have to grow up.
  16. You learn the value of solitude (especially if you live in a household with three teenage daughters and four cats).
  17. You take the time for introspection and realize that it is a true gift.
  18. You see that there is still so very much to do.
  19. You ponder bigger things as you spiral to that inevitable conclusion to life...namely death.
  20. You learn that you have a lot more to learn.

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