Some people would rather stop celebrating birthdays as they get older. Not me! I am grateful to be around still, alive and kicking, and doing all the things I do. I just celebrated my 62nd birthday, something many of my loved ones didn’t get the chance to achieve. I’m healthy, feeling good, and still have so much to do. I plan to be around for a long time.
I’m especially grateful to still be around after a crazy incident on Saturday late afternoon! I’ve had other chapters in the book “Dumb Things I’ve Done and Lived to Tell About,” but this could have made me another statistic. Here’s what happened.
I was invited to a paella party a group of friends puts on every year. It’s at a house in a twisty-turny neighborhood, and even though I use a maps app, I still get lost every time. I thought I had it figured out, and there were a few cars parked around the house, so I parked the car and walked up to the door.
I wasn’t paying much attention, and it sort of looked like my friends’ house. The front door was open, so I walked up, opened the screen door, and stepped inside the house - the wrong house.
Without even knocking, I had walked into the house of a lovely Black family with multiple generations of people with plates on their laps, forks paused at their lips, looking at me like a deer in headlights.
I instinctively put my hands to my heart and immediately started apologizing, “Oh my goodness! I’m at the wrong house! I’m so sorry to bother you.”
Then a flood of all the horrible stories of people accidentally being in the wrong place at the wrong time hit me, and I added, “Please don’t shoot me!” I laughed, as did they, while I backed out the door and carefully clicked the latch close. I am so lucky.
At a time when knocking on the wrong door, pulling into the wrong driveway, or getting in the wrong car can get you shot, or worse, accidentally walking into someone’s house was unsettling. I’m sure it was just as awkward and scary for the family as it was for me. Thankfully we laughed about it instead of having the situation escalate.
Still, what a time we’re living in when just leaving the house feels like we’re taking a risk that we won’t make it back. There are shootings in the news every day. Innocent lives taken by gun violence are now the leading cause of death for children aged 18 and younger.
And although the majority of Americans would like to see stricter gun laws, nothing ever changes – except more gun sales. People are constantly told to be scared and to use guns to defend themselves, so it’s no wonder more people are being shot. This problem will only get worse unless some action is taken.
I like to believe that, much like the lovely family whose dinner I disrupted, most people aren’t hiding behind their doors with an itchy trigger finger waiting for someone to trespass. I believe that most people are basically good and are trying their best to make it through the world and live a content life. A few get their kicks from watching people suffer, and I stay away from them.
So, I plan to happily live my life and not let fear keep me from going out into the world and taking risks. So far, I’m still living to tell about the stupid things I’ve done, and I am excited to add more chapters to that book.
You, young whippersnappers, may not think there are things to love about getting older. There certainly are things not to love about aging, like arthritis, mobility issues, and of course, CRS (can’t remember shit). Still, the pros outweigh the cons. So here’s what you have to look forward to besides the senior specials.
What once would have sent me over the edge no longer has the power to upset me. I’m finally learning to pick my battles, maybe because fighting everything takes too much energy now. Things I used to think were so important have shifted, and I better understand what I can and can’t control.
Understanding that everything is temporary.
I’ve seen the ebbs and flows of life and understand that nothing lasts forever, even when we want it to. I have learned the importance of embracing change, realizing I can change most things I don’t like and that sometimes change happens in its own time.
Feeling unafraid of death.
I’m not afraid to die, although that may change when I’m actually confronted with my mortality. I can’t control when it is my time to go, no matter what precautions I take or risks I avoid. I’ve always lived with the philosophy of embracing each day like it’s my last on Earth. I try not to leave things undone and words unspoken. I plan to live my life to its fullest every day until I draw my last breath.
The saying with age comes wisdom is true. We’ve seen some stuff. We’ve learned through the school of hard knocks. Problems become easier to solve as we age because of what we have learned from past experiences. And what we don’t know about, we’ve learned enough to make up an answer that sounds convincing.
Loving yourself, warts and all.
The beautiful thing about getting older is how much more comfortable it is to be in your skin. I have reached a new level of self-acceptance and unconditional love for myself every decade of my life. Putting in the work to make changes that allow me to come to peace and accept the things I cannot change is powerful and is part of our lifelong journey.
Having no more effs left to give.
Along with the loving self-acceptance of aging comes the realization that not only are we enough, but we have always been enough. Caring what people think of us and living our lives to please others is no longer as important as it once was. Boundaries are easier to set and uphold since we’ve been practicing them for a while. We come to understand that caring for ourselves is more important than anyone else’s opinion.
Doing whatever you want.
When we’re younger, there are lots of expectations and responsibilities that drive what we do. Getting a good job, raising a family, and attaining a particular lifestyle take all our energy. As we get closer to retirement, there is no more career to endanger or kids to embarrass, and we can start doing as much or as little as we want.
Another thing I love about aging is the ability to fly under the radar. Women especially can become more invisible as we age, but this doesn’t have to be bad. Not being noticed means we can do and go anywhere we like because no one ever suspects that a sweet old lady would do anything questionable.
Of course, I’ll never really be invisible. I’m too big, bold, and loud for that. Losing the attention of creepy men doesn’t hurt my feelings at all.
Since I was a young whippersnapper myself, I’ve looked forward to my Crazy Old Lady era, when I could say and do anything I like, dress in wild, colorful clothing that doesn’t have to match, have shockingly orange hair, and cause a stir wherever I go. I’ve always loved odd characters. Now and I’m excited to keep developing my persona to join the ranks of the colorful locals I adored when I was younger.
The best part of aging by far is FREEDOM. Free to be who you are and do what you want. Most importantly, the freedom to make mistakes, like walking into a stranger’s home, and the grace to hope they’ll think you’re just a harmless, crazy old lady.
Did you know I've published a book? Learn more about it here!
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