Last August I turned 50. At the time I wasn’t the least little bit concerned.
I marked my half century on the planet by celebrating my graduation from a Yoga Teacher’s Training which just happened to fall on the Big Day. Naturally I took this as a benevolent sign from the Universe that I was on the right path. It was meant to be. I wasn’t worried at all. I didn’t “do” aging.
A month or two later I realized I’d been cruelly hoodwinked. Catching sight of myself in a mirror in the middle of a department store, I realized the reflection that gazed back at me looked familiar, but for an instant I wasn’t sure who this woman was. There was a faded look to her as if time and life had taken an eraser and rubbed away the vibrancy of youth. That’s when 50 hit me. Where did youth and beauty go? They left without telling me. They crept quietly out of the back door while I was looking the other way.
Youth has little patience with age. It barely rests its wings on one idea before flitting off to the next excitement or adventure. There’s no time to step off the merry-go-round of youth to simply dwell, reflect or absorb. There’s no time for youth to settle its eyes on an old face and look past the exterior into the person beneath. I know this to be the truth because that’s how I behaved before I aged. I didn’t “do” aging because I hadn’t yet aged. But when I did, as we all must, the merry-go-round came to a standstill and the music stopped. Left alone without the distractions of youth, I had time to look deeper.
And when I looked deeper, much deeper into the eyes and the soul, I found the buried treasure that age bestows. Understanding, acceptance, patience, wisdom, from the benefit of hindsight. Solid and immovable gems that blossom deep within which will not be erased by time. On the contrary they can shine brighter with the passage of years. I don’t think these gifts are always found, if we waste too much time clinging to the outer beauty and neglect the inner I think these gifts stay buried. Age is an inside job. It is also a gift denied to many. One of my closest friends recently passed away from cancer. She never quite made it to 50 leaving behind a lovely husband and beautiful son. Age is treasure and a privilege, not something to be spurned, feared or despised. It’s something to celebrate and be proud of.
Who says we have to look 30 when we’re 50 anyway? Why can’t we just proudly look our own version of 50 and love it. I’m not saying “give up” not in the slightest. Care for and nurture your human temple. Eat well, exercise, drink plenty of water and all those good things but accept and maybe even welcome, that despite the new expensive face cream or the juice cleanse or the yoga, that with each passing year we are going to look a little older and not a little younger. I’ve rejected any thoughts of face lifts, fillers or Botox. I intend to embrace age and rejoice in wrinkles. I intend to love and be grateful for the faded and sometimes slightly creaky exterior. I intend to turn inward to polish the interior treasures and beauties that age is generous enough to bestow. The next time you look at a woman and think “she must have been beautiful in her day” look closer, look deeper because she’s actually more beautiful now than ever before. She’s polishing her inner beauty and thankful for the gift of age.