Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Okay. What's Next?

For Monday, December 19, 2011

As I was working with one of my students today I noticed my hearing suddenly was affected. There was a brief sound of static, the sound of wind...I’m not sure how to describe it. It’s not the first time this has happened to me this fall. It never lasts for very long, just a moment or so as if my ears are adjusting to a climb in altitude, only I haven’t ascended to any new height when it happens.

I’ll get it checked. I will. I promise. (Just as soon as I get around to finding a primary care doctor). But the occurrence serves to stop me, in whatever I am doing, to think, “Huh. I wonder what else will soon go on the blink?”

Noticing the signs of aging has occurred more in the past two years. The facial wrinkles here and there, the back pain, the increased minding of cold weather, the reminders from my dentist that I must think of getting a few crowns.... I don’t particular like the reminders that I am getting older. I don’t embrace the way our bodies begin to deteriorate just when our wisdom has increased. It’s a cruel joke.

Yet in the past year and a half I have worked to rebel against Father Time. I dropped ten pounds and began strengthening and toning my muscles. I began getting more physical, going hiking, kayaking, and snowshoeing. I began wearing my glasses more often to stop the tugging at my eyes when my contact lenses fail to give me clear vision due to astigmatism and have grown to love my new scholarly and modern appearance. I don’t obsess over a new wrinkle for I find crows’ feet quite charming. I have done what I can to throw back the signs of aging, to counter them with a “Oh yeah?! Take THAT!” kind of attitude.

I used to be mistaken for being much younger than my years when I was in my 20s. And ever since then, I have hoped I still look at least 10 years younger than I am. One of the meanest things a peer ever said to me was when a fellow teacher said to my 25 year old self, "I wonder if you'll still have as good a rapport with your students when you are no longer young and pretty". I admit, the thought, however mean-spirited as I recognized it to be, has crossed my mind in the past twenty years. Will aging affect my relationships with people in a negative way? Will I be judged "old" and not given a fair shake? I'd hate to think so but sure, the world, or at least the media, does favor the young. But I would rather embrace the age I am. At the age of 43 I think I’m looking good, even if I don’t appear to look 33. Seeing my own daughter just a few weeks away from her 20th birthday has reminded me that I no longer WANT to hang onto my younger self. It’s her time now to be 20. I’m going to live the best decade I can and show her and my other children that we only get better as we age. I truly believe that. And I have proof of that when I view my friends and my family as they move into their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s. I think of the beautiful older women I know and I admire them for their accomplishments, their talents, their intelligence and wisdom, and yes, their inner and outer beauty. If I stay active and healthy, my body won’t fail me. So I refuse to fail my body by being sad that it isn’t quite what it used to be. Instead, it’s time to LIVE and to be grateful it’s still functioning as well as it is.

When I do begin experiencing old age, I am going to look back on the last 40 years and know that I made the very most of them. And then I’ll look into the mirror at the beautiful wrinkled face staring back at me and I’ll say, “Okay. What’s next?”

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