Thoughts on Aging – Part 3, a Potpurri

It seems that I’m surrounded by aging conversations these days….

Example 1…

There’s a scene in the HBO series Girls in which the main character is examined by a doctor because she is concerned about possible exposure to STDs. She’s babbling on and on about nothing and everything, sounding completely inane and stupid. The doctor listens to her prattles, and then says something like “you couldn’t pay me to be 24 again.”

The one line got me. It’s completely true for me, too. I am so struggling with aging, turning 40, the wrinkles, bring farther away from my childhood, hitting the mid-point of life, but, oh no, I’d never want to do the twenties again.

Though, I did get a heck of a lot more sleep then…

Example 2…

A friend, who is in her 50s, mentioned, after looking at the wedding photos of a mutual friend, how much she’d like to go back and do it all over again. Be young, with 30 years still left to live. I was surprised; be twenty-something again, I asked? Really? (See Example 1.)

I’m going to sound just a bit cliche here; please bear with me. As much as I moan about turning 40 (it’s oh hard to write!), I like myself more now than I did at 24. I am 1000% more comfortable in my skin, wrinkles and all, and I more confident in my choices. I wouldn’t want to do it again. Unless, of course, all that wisdom of almost being 40 could come with me.

Example 3…

redshutters_mapofafricaRecently, I met with a woman who is writing a 25-year history of the scientific research institute where I worked many moons ago. I was sharing some stories from my time working there and going through old photos. In those photos, I came across a much younger me. I started working there at 25 years old and left just as I turned 30. It was an amazing time. I traveled the world: Thailand, Morocco, Botswana, Senegal, Tanzania, England, Switzerland, Spain, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Ethiopia. I was lucky to be doing work that mattered, that made a difference. I can honestly say that my experiences changed my life and altered–for the better–my world view.

But when I saw those photos, I was reminded of being in my 20s again. Such a hard time! I made so many mistakes. So many naive, selfish mistakes. I was oblivious and impatient, and sometimes, those mistakes come back in a flash, making me sad, and a bit mad. I wish I had handled so many things better! But, I’m sure, if I had, I wouldn’t recognize the lessons of those mistakes. I wouldn’t, for example, value how far I’ve come.

Example 4…

redshutters_thandinewtonI read an interview with Thandie Newton, the actress, in some magazine recently; that’s her to the left.

The interviewer said something like, whoa, you’re turning 40 this year? How are you doing with that?

And, Thandie Newton said (I’m paraphrasing, peeps, as I cannot find the actual interview; Google is not my friend), I’m so grateful. It’s been a long road, I’ve learned a lot, and I’m appreciative of all that I have experienced.

What an insightful, well-adjusted answer. I’m working on saying something similar without sounding incredibly sarcastic.

We are closing in on the last few days of my thirties….it feels strange, anti-climatic, and a little bit exciting. Who knows what comes next? Something amazing, I hope.

The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. 
And the most you can do it live inside that hope. 
-Barbara Kingsolver

Photo credit: Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL via photopin cc
Photo credit: mattsadventure via photopin cc

One Response
  1. June 29, 2012