With November as the month of my birth, before long my age will have a new designation, which in general means I’m another year older. The truth is we’re all another year older, every single day from the year prior. The only difference on our birthday is the number changes.
For many, especially as the years begin to climb, this becomes a dreaded occasion. People tend to put a premium on youth and forget the importance of each subsequent year. For a while, I may have bought into that mindset. Not anymore.
Here’s why; with every year I have more to offer, to others and myself. I’m smarter, stronger, braver and filled with experiences that I could never have imagined in my relative youth. And I’m not alone. It’s true for each of us, although many choose to focus on what they feel they’ve lost, not what’s been gained.
When I look at musicians or great craftspeople of any kind, I often marvel at the skills that have taken years to hone so mightily. With every nuance, the mastery shown in a simple flick of a tool or hand gesture is magic acquired through hard-achieved experience over time.
While I have no doubt I’ve developed incredible skills and experience throughout my life, perhaps my greatest feat is mastering myself. The years have allowed me to know myself through and through and understand my passions, the foibles (and there are many), who I am and what I want to do. It’s not perfect, and it’s not without its ups and downs. I’m a continual work in progress, and that’s okay.
I have a comfort level with life and most of all, with myself and this is true for so many others I know. Sure, we’re getting older, every day, but we’re good with it and like what we see.
My body doesn’t always operate as smoothly as it once did and the person I am today may not look a thing like I did years ago – that’s fine. But there’s strength in my eyes, solid living in my face and signs of my journey in every facet of skin, mind and bones.
What no one tells you about aging is that if you’re lucky enough to have the privilege, you’ll have so much to fall back on in hard times and to build on for the years ahead. You have great stories to recall, incredible people and experiences to reflect on and such a broad range of living to draw from no matter what comes your way. It’s not always easy, and it certainly comes fast – but if you’re busy mourning what you think you’ve lost, it will go by in a flash without any appreciation for who you are now.
A decade ago I met a man who told me his age in the course of our conversation. I laughingly protested he couldn’t possibly be that old since he looked years younger. Instead of feeling flattered, he became indignant insisting he was indeed that old and the phrase that he used to tell me has stuck with me ever since. He didn’t say that he was 44, but rather that he had made 44 years. Made 44 years, as if it was a true accomplishment to boast about – and he was right, it was. We all don’t get that privilege, and every year I mark is a real privilege and a huge accomplishment.
When you’re ready to bemoan your advancing years, consider instead how lucky you are to get this far and what you’ve achieved along the way. When you take stock of the gains rather than focusing on perceived losses, you’ll be amazed by how incredible it truly is to get older.