I'm looking at the date on my phone and realizing that I'll be 39 years old in twelve days. I remember being a little girl thinking how dreadfully old THIRTY sounded, and how life must be close to over at that age because, really, what was there after that? You get to drive at sixteen, become an adult at eighteen, drink fun stuff at 21... what good was getting older after that?
The insight I have at this age makes me look forward to what's still to come.
A lot of people lie about their age. Getting older is looked at, especially in America, as something agonizing. We don't want to see wrinkles peering back at us because we certainly don't see them on the models in magazines, even if they're in their sixties (*cough airbrush cough*). The plastic surgery market is huge, and cosmetic companies market different magical formulas to make us look younger.
So what's the obsession? Why is aging such a negative thing?
At one time, age was a sign of honor and respect, wisdom and understanding. Not just biblically, though there's certainly a lot in there about it. Proverbs 16:31 says, "A gray head is a crown of glory". Job 12:12 says, "Wisdom is with aged men; with long life is understanding." We learn more as we get older, and knowledge is important, that's true. With experience, we can answer questions for the younger generations. However, that still doesn't answer the question.
I found a great quote, though, that gave me a little more insight into why people are obsessed with staying young as long as possible:
"Why do people talk of the horrors of old age? It's great. I feel like a fine old car with the parts gradually wearing out, but I'm not complaining... those who find growing old terrible are people who haven't done what they wanted with their lives." --Martha Gellhorn (American novelist and war correspondent)
That makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? As we get older and we haven't accomplished the things we've wanted to accomplish -- or perhaps anything of importance -- we start to panic. We look at the time that's passed already and the time we may or may not have ahead of us, and we weigh our options. Do I have enough time left to get everything done I wanted to? Or anything I wanted to? So we spend our money and our efforts on looking more youthful. But why? Looking younger does not make us younger.
What DOES make us younger?
Nothing. (If you thought I was going to give you some magical passport to the fountain of youth, or some great tips on how to add years to your life, I must apologize.) But I can certainly tell you what will help you to feel younger.
Have you noticed that, as we get older, the joy just seems to seep out of our lives? Whether we have debt or divorce or death of loved ones, sadness and anxiety and anger and busy-ness begin to overtake our joy. When you look at a child sitting in the mud making an absolute mess, take a moment to notice the look on his face. It's euphoric. He's living in the moment, enjoying every drip of brown wet dirt that will later cake beneath his fingernails, and reveling in it for as long as his parents will possibly let him.
What makes you joyful? Spending time with friends, singing, dancing, acting, writing, hiking, camping, fishing, hunting? Do that. If you haven't done it in ages, do it tomorrow. If you do it once a year, do it more often. Bring some joy into your life. Smile more, laugh more, revel in happiness -- this will give you what you want. This will make you feel younger, even if it can't take years off of your life.
And, ultimately, isn't that what we're looking for?
Someone told me that we're only as old as we feel. Next year I'll be 40, according to my biological make-up. There are days when I feel 70, but there are days when I feel 20. My goal this year is to have more days that make me feel like I'm 20, to have more joy in my life, more smiles and laughter in my day, and to start working on the things I want to accomplish so that, when I do get 'old', I'll be able to look back at the time I've spent and know that it was all worth while.
I wish you the same!