The Coming of Age… Wisdom not included.
by Debra Chappell
View from the Front Porch: (this morning 7:30)
They say that with age comes wisdom. Don’t you believe it!
I recently just had another birthday — no matter what I do, they just keep coming (could be a trend.) I keep waiting for the one where all the answers to life’s mysteries — the sage wisdom, reflective perspective and contented peace with the universe — arrive all at once just waiting to settle into my being and old bones as the patient reward for growing older. Well… hasn’t happened. I still feel (and sometimes act) like the sixteen year old I once was — bi-focals and cellulite not withstanding.
A lot has changed on the outside obviously, starting with the shall we say “less-then-taut” body of my bikini years and lines in the forehead that even a bucket of collagen can’t fill. But on the inside, I think I pretty much still see the world through the same lense I always have, for better or worse. I still get excited by new opportunities, far off places and all the wonderful things in them, a ride on my fat tire bike and the sound of an exotic martini (still don’t actually like the taste though.) At this ripe old age, I still subscribe to the “world is my oyster” theology, perhaps only now adding a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio to go along with it.
I still get intimidated by any new or unfamiliar situation but am still willing to accept a new challenge on luck alone. I’m sometimes more successful than others but always, always better for the trying.
Regardless of the polarity of our current political system, I am ever hopeful in the face of mass cynicism and hold to my younger conviction that yes, one person can make a difference. I also still believe that good will win out in the end.
I still believe fiercely in the power of love and that it can overcome anything, and still think it’s worth fighting for.
I know now that life is ever-changing. What was envisioned over incense, cheap wine, Carly Simon and James Taylor looks different with mortgages, careers, and Michael Buble. But I still listen to James Taylor and sometimes drink two-buck chuck anyway.
Most importantly though, both then and now, I feel that my best days are still ahead of me just waiting to be lived and refuse to give in to the notion they already have. Though I like the reflection in the rearview mirror I prefer the looking glass out.
I remain a hopeless optimist and dreamer, in spite of our cultural pessimism and reality TV that serves up shattered ones for entertainment.
Of course, the negatives of still feeling like a teenager on the inside when you have to function in the adult world are plenty, and magnified by an adolescent insecurity I’ve been unable to shake in all my adult years. No matter what success comes my way I still hear that voice in the back of my head asking “who let you in? And why are you wearing that god-awful outfit?” After this long though, I’ve learned to ignore it.
My gut response to any given situation can still be as emotional, hyper-sensitive, and/or just as irrational as I was in high school, only now I’ve learned to step back and take a breath before reacting — that the gut is not always the wisest counsel (and I still sometimes fail miserably at this.)
I still don’t read as much as I should and spend way more time socializing then learning, with every bit as much guilty pleasure as I ever had for doing so. I still have stacks of things on my “to-do” list left over from my younger days and am still happy to put them off for a cup of coffee with a friend or even a walk with the dog. They remain optimistically on the list though, in case I ever have the time or immediacy to complete them.
I even still like the same cereal for breakfast as I did as a kid, only now I’m more cognizant of it’s fiber content.
I have learned a few things along the road to my so-called maturity however — like the fact that not everyone cares about or wants my opinion, no matter how strongly I believe in it. That you only get out of life what you put in, and if something sounds too good to be true , you can usually find it used on E-bay. That by the time anything shows up at our local JC Penney’s, it’s already out of fashion, and that if you have to ask if it makes your butt look too big, it usually does.
I’ve learned that it’s the simple things, not the bigger or more numerous, that count and that any “loss” cited in the recent press – homes, jobs, place in line, voter confidence, you-fill-in-the-blank, compares nothing, NOTHING to the loss of a loved one.
So…I prefer not to dwell on my physical age, it is what it is, and no one has ever been able stop the march of time or it’s effects anyway – not creams, potions, mega vitamins, Botox, plastic surgery or even SPANX. So don’t look for me slipping quietly into either seniordom or the golden years. As I did as a petulant teenager, I’m going kicking, screaming and rocking a really hot pair of **NYDJ jeans.
**In response to some confusion on the part of my male readers — NYDJ is a brand name familiar to women of a “certain age”. (Not Your Daughters Jeans) They are a bonafide designer label and do indeed offer a flattering fit, I have a pair hanging in my closet… alas, not as flattering perhaps as the one in the photo above, but there again, it’s all in how you feel in them!