At 38, I am a far cry from being “old”, but about ten stops past “spring chicken” and I can definitely see “middle age” just over the hill. When I was in my 20’s, I never dreaded the thought of being older as I always felt like every year that passed contained some sort of life lesson that revealed a new truth or asset I could carry on my journey. More arrows for the quiver, more ammunition to fight my battles.
When I turned 35 my dad died, and a year later one of my very best friends. I know that people die every day and death really can’t be a major tragedy because it happens so frequently on this planet it’s just mechanical at this point. However, since those experiences I’ve felt like a wounded bird. The life lessons – on the whole – do not feel “enriching” anymore. Per the Hallmark psychology department, one could argue that I am “learning about loss” and that this lesson will serve a purpose later down the road. Such experiences should teach appreciation of what one has, and to a degree they do. I definitely appreciate the company of others more so now than I ever have. But since birthday #35, the aging process has felt more like someone is steadily applying coats of lead to my soul. Days seem heavier and moments of laughter have to be manufactured more frequently to sustain any wind in the sails. I often wonder if some miraculous event will take place that melts away this cumulative gravity. I certainly hope that it does. It would be wonderful to fall in love again at some point, but looking around I think the chances may be slimmer than even I realize. While there is still life in my creaky body, there must be at least a thimble of hope (and perhaps some red wine).
Despite this weighted feeling, my mind can see that there is a certain mellowing in progress and perhaps that isn’t entirely a bad thing. I’ve long been an over-reactive type. A bitter, yellow fruit that might need a few more days of harsh sun to decay into a sweeter golden brown. How many times can one freak out about the trials of life before they simply see it’s just part of a pattern that constantly cycles?
To quote that Welsh singer Jemma Griffiths:
“It’s just a ride, it’s just a ride, don’t be afraid (now dry your eyes). It may feel so real inside, but don’t forget, it’s just a ride.”