The older I get, the more keenly I feel the passage of time. I don’t remember feeling this way in my 20s or even my 30s. Now in my 40s, there are constant reminders of the passage of time – children growing up, facial lines deepening, my party-constitution failing me on a night out. I hear 40 is the new 30 (don’t ask me the source – I don’t care, I wholeheartedly support them anyway) so generally speaking, I’m not anywhere in the vicinity of what could possibly be classed as that dreadful term, ‘middle age’. I still feel like I’ve got a lot to do, to experience and to learn. I want to stay vital, invigorated and interesting if nothing else than for the sake of my 3 year old daughter. Yes that’s right – I’d like to be the coolest, wow-you-couldn’t-possibly-be-a-61-year-old Mum on the planet at her 21st birthday party. No pressure.
In terms of actually making it to my daughter’s 21st – by which I mean (to be quite blunt) life expectancy – I console myself with the fact we are generally a family of quality long-lifers. So I should be around. My grandmother is still alive, living in a house on her own in Merewether, the same house in which she raised her family. She still walks to the shops to get the paper. Apart from being a fairly deaf, she’s rockin’ it. She turns 90 this year. Another two family members have reached and passed the 100 year milestone. Both have arthritis, one is deaf and the other doesn’t “do” steps – but they are still loving, happy, gorgeous souls. Ummmm, yes alright, they’re dogs, but I’m including them in my familial-longevity assessment for the sheer fact they’ve been raised in our home environment. Sure, in their case it’s nuture over nature – but they’re still family so they count for the sake of my ruminations.
The funny thing about getting older is that you don’t feel like you’re ageing on the inside. My thoughts, memories and feelings are all swirling about inside me without a care about the general state of my body. I can still act silly and feel like a child. I can still feel infatuation, expectation and senseless passion. I can weep and mourn the same way I did 5, 10 or 20 years ago. Who I am on the inside remains relatively unchanged.
I find my memories aren’t really affected by time either. Those imprints are all there, jumbled, ready to access when wanted or needed. Many seem like only yesterday while some things from yesterday seem like long ago. And whether they exist in coloured detail or blurry sepia – what persists is the feeling around the memory. Joy, sadness, regret, happiness, shame, anticipation, embarrassment, loneliness or completeness – the memory is watermarked and I feel it more distinctly than I recall the event itself. The emotion of the past experience is like a hash-tag for accessing the memory.
Hey, I just used twitter-speak to describe personal memory referencing. See – I’m NOT old!
Tenuously connected to these thoughts: I read something in yesterday’s paper that startled me, an interview with an author about her recently published book ‘Losing February’ based on a period in her life. The author herself is quoted as saying “Falling in love is a bit like mental illness, you lose all sense of a lot of things… that’s why I called (the book) ‘Losing February’, because I was so in love. I lost February. For a woman my age I was a bit surprised”. Wait, what? A woman her age? I scanned the article for more information, wondering at what age the dramatic and wonderful effects of falling in love abandon us. She’s 50 now, it was set 10 years ago, so apparently it’s 40. Mental note: Let my single friends know they better get out there amongst it, because they might not feel that glorious emotional ascent into love if they don’t find ‘the right one’ before 40. A lot of my friends are already 40+, so I’m guessing they too will keenly feel the passage of time when I lay that one on them. Suffice to say I don’t agree with this premise at all. I can’t find any discernible loss of feelings at 43. My emotional boat still floats.
Note to readers: yes, yes, I know this author may simply be referring to the fact that she thought she wouldn’t find someone to fall in love with at 40, rather than actually losing the ability to love with age – but still, it’s a slightly grim view of the world. For the sake of my blogpost, just roll with it!
To sum up today’s mental meanderings: I’d like to think that what’s on the inside has great bearing on what happens on the outside. I’d like to think that the emotions I felt when I was younger are still accessible to me as I grow older, albeit shaded with life experience and some common sense I lacked in my youth. I’d like to think that I will still find things to wonder about when I’m older and that I can still be surprised every day. I’d like to think that I can age gracefully and be at peace with whatever happens to this housing for my soul.
And finally – paradoxically – I can’t wait for 2030. Why? Because I have a special party to go to.