“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”–George Bernard Shaw
Aging is a funny thing. Only last week, I looked in the mirror at the end of a work day and thought I saw a streak of eyeliner running up the center of my brow bone toward an eyebrow–which seemed odd. With a shrug, I thought, “Who knows?” as I tried to wipe it off. Then, I just had to switch my gaze to the magnifying mirror, an addition whose assistance I seem to require on a daily basis. I should have realized–since this is not the first time it happened–what I thought was a makeup streak, turned out to be a new wrinkle. Geesh! Another serving of Fun-for-all Aging Humble Pie, whipped up by the Chef Life.
Heaven forbid, if I make comments about my age to my parents, they merely make jokes about it and offer encouraging comments, such as, “Just you wait,” or “You don’t know the half of it yet.” Nonetheless, there are seemingly preternatural changes that are beginning to occur that give me pause.
For example, at work I am (along with my husband, John) in the top 5-10 oldest employees on staff; and in all honesty, we’re probably in the top five. On the bright side, I am pretty sure it’s the first time in my life I can claim to have ever been ranked so highly! On the downside, I often pinch myself, wondering if I am in a dream state, when coworkers ask when/if I am close to retirement; or better yet, when they can have my job. It feels otherworldly to now be one of the teachers that is perceived as “old.” Of course, in my oh-so-ignorant early career years, I also thought I would be able to retire early in my 50s, and would already be working a not-so-serious retirement job. Ha!
In addition to my recent elevation in work rankings, there are other insidious signs that I could be aging. It seems my skin is now changing at an alarming rate as it thins, folds, hangs, and forms once unimaginable cavernous crevices and fanciful spots. In fact, I am pretty sure I’ve spotted (pun-intended) a miniature Australian continent currently forming on one of my cheeks and Antarctica on the other!
Then, there are body parts that are beginning to rearrange themselves in entertaining and unprecedented ways. Who knew cellulite could be so shifty? And, of course, the new found plot twists of balance, digestion, sleep, and the ever elusive recovery. I mean, my goodness, aging is an amusement park of fun–no need to pay for the Tilt-a-whirl, Bumper cars, or Scrambler here–the aging body gratefully provides this amusement for free!
In the midst of all this wholesome clean fun is a bit of good cheer! Since John is only a couple years older than me, he probably hasn’t noticed ANY of these so-called changes in me. Right? After all, the changes in vision, as we age, is like walking through life in a perpetual tunnel of Funhouse mirrors. I’m sure he’s never noticed my thinning, gray hair or any of the other deviant developments gifted to me by life.
Oh, and then there’s the shrinking height. I can not begin to express the sheer amount of joy that GROWS within my heart, with each annual checkup, swelling my head to new proportions, as I am reminded that I have already scaled to my highest height of 4’11”, and I will never conquer anything taller. Instead, I have the good fortune of experiencing other parts of me that are now growing, like my ear lobes, nose, and jowls! Those are nasty rides of nonsense I’d rather put a stop to–the sooner the better! Sigh, I guess I am going to finally have to set aside runway model as potential retirement gig!
Another fun fact? Getting lucky has a new definition. I can’t tell you how many times I have had the titillating experience of walking into a room only to wonder, “Why am I here?” If I remember BEFORE leaving the room, I think, “Yeah, Baby, I just got lucky.” If, however, I start walking back and remember mid-path; well, that’s at least making it to third base. If I return all the way to my original starting point, but then remember, I’ve at least scored a single or a double. If it is the middle of the night, or the next day, before I remember, that is a definite strike-out since it probably means I’ve left the ice cream or the cheese in the car to melt into a gelatinous gooey heap of spillage that I now need to clean up.
While I don’t seem to have yet acquired some of my acquaintances and friends’ talents, I am told that with age, they now possess an even greater ability to multitask. One friend claims she can sneeze, pass gas, pee, and laugh all at the same time. Meanwhile, another person states that, like George Burns, when they bend down to tie their shoes, they look around to see if there’s anything else they could do while they are down there. In fact, I can recall my Papaw once telling me that he was living in a haunted house with my grandmother as he claimed there were lots of unexplained sounds and smells floating around the place!
Recently, one of my 6th grade students asked me if I ever tried to rewind movies on Netflix after I finished them. Before I could answer, another student jumped in and asked if I ever had to step over dinosaur dung when I was a kid. While they were on this downward spiral of frivolity, another student, inspired by their knowledge of the Holy Land, asked if the Dead Sea was only sick when I was their age. Youth, along with its pernicious sense of humor, is indeed wasted on the young!
In the meantime, I’ll keep plucking those gray hairs sprouting in random places like spring onions in a flower bed. I’ll continue to write-off forgetful moments to, “Sometimers,” and I’ll continue to be grateful that cellphones and social media were NOT things when I was coming of age. In fact, I am pretty sure in bourbon or wine years, I haven’t even begun to reach perfection, but I’m leaning closer!
So good news, Dear Readers, if you’re reading this, the best is yet to come–no matter your age. It’s like riding a roller coaster, as our age keeps climbing, so does our sense of humor and our sense of humility as we watch other things start sliding. Besides, I prefer to think I’ll never be “over the hill”; after all, I’ll forget where the dog-gone hill is, or I’ll be too tired to climb it!
Here’s to life! With age comes wisdom, so I am eagerly anticipating my rise to near-genius level! In the meantime, as once suggested by the great Will Rogers, if we could perhaps get Congress to take issue with aging, we could at least be guaranteed that the aging process would be slowed down for years to come!