I once wrote an article on my birthday about my five gray hair. Yep. Five! I fretted all over the post about how it shocked me and how I was trying (‘trying’ being the operative word here) to take it positively. Fast forward to now, I’ve lost count of how many gray hair I have. I care more of course, but I can’t snip at a fact of life with a pair of scissors. So, I’ve given up on cutting them off. Why bother when it has to happen, right?
Does it make me feel old? Of course, but I would be stupid to believe that I will never age and I am not stupid. I should thank my five feet nothing height for the times when I get mistaken for a twenty-something but that doesn’t happen often, I assure you. There are other things about me that give away my real age. When you have a child who hovers around you, it automatically earns you the moniker of ‘Aunty’ in India. So does the propensity of the body to gain weight and look softer around the edges as we age. I am quite adept at looking soft around the edges, you see. I’ve given up on wearing clingy clothes in exchange for the more accommodative empire waists and peasant tops. I’m a bona fide Aunty now, no matter how many filters I use to take my selfies, and I am just fine with it.
I read somewhere, middle age is when the broadness of the mind and the narrowness of the waist change places. If that’s the case I’m heading in the right direction, except I feel smarter. It feels good to know that I’ve got something right in my thirty-five years of existence!
So, what is it that makes me feel old?
I have crow’s feet on the sides of my eyes, laugh lines, gray hair sprouting here and there, a receding hairline and an increasing waistline. All of them bother me, but the ONE thing that makes me feel my age is when my body doesn’t keep up with the younger person within me. When I hit the treadmill, I can’t go from level 3 to 6 in under five minutes anymore. I have to amble along for at least ten now or risk an injury. When my daughter insists I race her, I can’t win anyway because my heart threatens to jump out of my chest if I try too hard. Late-nights are OK only if I’m in a prone position, parked in front of a screen. Coffee is a MUST to carry on through the day. Parties that go well into the night are a no, no. In fact ALL late-nights in my life now are only because I have work to do. An evening hog-fest over chaat WILL induce diarrhoea in the morning. Don’t even get me started on sickness. I have always hated being sick but have only realized in the last three years that recovering takes longer and it’s frustrating that I can’t just shrug off a bout of the sniffles with some pills. I actually need TLC now.
And as if that isn’t enough, there will always be someone who will rub it in your face –
“Arey, pehchana nahin aapko. Bhari-bhari lag rahin hain na, isliye.”
(Sorry, didn’t recognize you because you’ve ‘filled up’).
According to Google, middle age starts somewhere around forty-five. I feel I am already in my middle ages because I’ve slowed myself down in the last few years. It has been a deliberate attempt because I have figured out that there is no point fighting against it. My body demands more care and I’m happy to oblige. I don’t think it’s right to call it growing older. I call it getting wiser.
I bet you’re thinking, she’s aging faster than her real age. So what? My theory about aging is –
If your body can’t do it, don’t force it… unless your physiotherapist says so.
Ageing happens not just in the body but in the mind too. But that’s the beauty of ageing – your body gets frailer but your mind gets sharper. But there are some old souls who have never been young… like me. At twenty, I did things that people much older than me did. Even now, I don’t like to waste time kidding myself that thirty is the new twenty, because it is not. I quite like how better-equipped I am now than when I was in my twenties.
The way I see it, we start ageing the moment we are born. But it’s how wise we are that makes the process of growing old worth it. While middle age does not mean that one slows down, it is definitely a time to wisen up and make some decisions about the future. By forty no one can just sit around waiting for life to happen. You have to take matters in your own hands, be it about health, or family, or career or about one’s life in general. The best thing about ageing is that it filters out the unnecessary in your life and reveals that which matters the most to you. By forty, most have figured out what they want to do in life, and if you haven’t, you’re getting there, don’t worry. That’s what the thirties are about.
This is the best thing that has happened to me since I turned the better side of thirty. I have understood that it’s not about looks but what lies within you. That show-off is a waste of time. That I can’t be responsible for everyone in my life. I can’t be a superwoman and tackle too many things in one go. I can’t please everyone and I most certainly should not try to either because I exist not to please other people, but to live for myself.
Ageing teaches you to conserve your energy and resources and utilize them for things that should matter. An older person will seldom waste energy on showing off his moves on the dancefloor, but will expend energy in playing with his children. An aged person may not spend time party-hopping, but will spend a weekend with close friends instead. There is nothing wrong with showing-off or party-hopping (unless you’re a politician too). There is just no need for it after a point in life. When you realize that, that’s called being wiser, not ageing.
Of course, ageing brings its own problems, mostly health-related, but it equips you to handle these issues better because now you’re armed with experience. Life comes with everything in a balance. If youth brings energy, it is retarded by lack of knowledge; whereas the converse is true for old age. If not for this balance, the young would trump the old every time and there would be no need for the old in the cycle of life. It’s all about give and take. The elderly give the young guidance in return for their support.
I won’t give you advice on how to tackle ageing. It’s your own journey. What makes you wiser may make someone else stupid. This post wasn’t meant to preach anyway, but to tell you what I feel about ageing. I will conclude with this – I can’t say now how I will feel once I am older but one thing is for sure, I’ll be a lot smarter than I am right now, and in my book, that is more valuable than an array of make-up on the dressing table.