My stepmom visited me this week. She’s a psychologist, so we always end up talking about all kinds of fascinating things. And since she’s a self-professed photography addict, we also looked at a lot of digital family photos through the years. It was fun.
For some reason, it seemed as if most of the pictures we looked at were from about 10 years ago. And much to my dismay, I found myself fighting the urge to think, “Wow, I looked a lot younger. Wow, I was a lot skinnier.” Lots of things have changed in 10 years. My Dad is not with us anymore. And I am no longer married to the father of my children. And all the kids in our family are growing up so fast. My nieces and nephew are practically adults.
So that got me to thinking about aging. Aging is weird. For anyone who is middle-aged or older, you know what I mean. For you 20 and 30-somethings … just wait! You’ll see. Your time will come. That is, if you’re lucky!!
As I sat there practically mourning my former skinnier, younger self, we got into a conversation about aging. I was wondering if people ever formally grieve the loss of their younger, former selves. I know that no one really wants wrinkles, gray hair, or a few extra pounds, but does anyone ever formally grieve the loss of their younger selves – much like we would the death of a loved one? It’s an interesting question. It might help to grieve because then you will come to terms with your aging better. But then again, it’s probably a whole lot better to appreciate your current age because you are much wiser now (hopefully!). Your life experiences have made you into the person you are today.
But one thing in particular that she said just struck me in the heart. It was something that her mother said at her 90th birthday party:
“Oh, to be 80 again…”
You see, it’s all relative. Most of you reading this are probably not looking forward to being 80 because you associate being that age with being old and slower – both mentally and physically. But from the perspective of a 90 year old, being 80 was like being a spring chicken.
Think about this: You are now the youngest you will ever be again. Weird thought, huh? Some people might even find it depressing. But not if you reframe it. Someday, you might look back and wish you had appreciated your 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, or even 90-year-old body and mind.
And now think about this: Now is the perfect time to do that. Appreciate the body and mind you have today.
I will leave you with this. It is a quote that hangs in my stepmom’s house, and I’ve also posted it on Facebook. But it is a perfect ending to this blog entry:
Don’t ever regret growing old. It’s a privilege denied to many.