So, it turns out getting old is a real thing. I never wanted to get older, actually, which is maybe a little unusual. Most kids can’t wait to grow up and reap the new and exciting privileges that lie ahead, but not me. Not to say I wasn’t curious to know what certain “things” would be like as I matured, but I suppose I have been fairly contented by whatever phase of life I was currently in. Like in college, I thought that all foods contained by a “wrap” were automatically healthy, which was an awesome way to live. Wraps were so new on the scene and had less carbs so, for instance, if I wanted a cheeseburger but not all those added calories, I’d just put it on a wrap and BADA-BOOM! It’s not unimportant to note that I was a solid 20 lbs. heavier in college, but you know what? I thought I looked GREAT, so the joke is on the wraps.
Anyway, this year, for the first time ever, I’m actually starting to feel older. If I misstep on an uneven surface it throws my back off a little, and my skin is forming permanent creases around my eyes and on my forehead, even at rest. I’m beginning to realize that all those things on my grandparents’ complaint reel were actual ailments from bodily deterioration; as a kid at family gatherings, I’d be so annoyed watching my grandfather aggressively decide which chair to sit in, and then ask one of us to collect some pillows for his back support before planting himself down to be waited on for the next seven hours; I’d laugh my ass off at my normally lady-like grandmother, who can belch strong enough to measure on the Richter scale. Meanwhile, despite my total lack of sympathy, my grandfather was dealing with back pain, and my grandmother’s acid reflux could probably have put a hole through a metal box. I’m only 35 so by the time I’m their age I’m hoping they will have figured out a way for humans to float but, if there isn’t, I’ll definitely be complaining to my grandkids, too.
Much to my chagrin, I also have become a lot more particular about my likes and dislikes. Where I used to play the whole “fine with anything” card, I’m no longer as happy to just roll with the punches. For example, a cocktail ordered in a restaurant, or mixed at home for that matter, has to be damn near perfect or else I’d rather pour it down the drain. If those cocktails are going to make me feel like my mouth is an old piece of carpet the next morning while my kids are pouncing on me, they had better have been fucking delicious…or at least the first two should be delicious and, after that, I’m sort of back to playing the whole “fine with anything” card.
In any event, with all of my “ageing woes” I have thought a little more about mortality, too. A woman named Jennifer James established a foundation called the Scarlett Fund in honor of her daughter who battled a very tough cancer and, thankfully, is doing great. Jennifer has dedicated her life to raising funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research. One of the many things she does is run marathons and, through Instagram, she dedicates each mile to a child with cancer. This year, mile 15 for the London marathon was dedicated to Calum. Reading through all the dedications is very difficult because so many of these kids are not facing such good odds as Calum and, worst of all, many of these kids are being honored posthumously.
These posts have been both a sickening and heartening reminder of how lucky we are, not only to be alive, but to be ageing. It’s a reminder of how important it is to appreciate every ache and wrinkle I get because it means I am still here and, thankfully, alongside someone I love, watching our children grow. It is a reminder that, every day is a gift and not to be taken for granted. It is a reminder that awful things happen in this life and the only thing we can do is our very best to show gratitude for the good stuff. We should spend less time putting pressure on ourselves to do everything perfectly, while risking missing the beauty of the little things that can easily pass you by. Even for those of us who will be blessed enough to grow old, life is still so short, and it should be lived to be cherished and enjoyed – so don’t be afraid to ask for extra lumbar support.