Ageing is hard, but it can still be fun.
Getting older isn’t easy.
You don’t have the physical vitality you used to, the world stops caring about you, and it’s hard to take policemen seriously because they look like kids in dress-ups.
And I’m man enough to see that this is a harder story for women, given the world puts such ridiculous importance on ‘youthful beauty and a younger looking smile”.
Still, it’s a hard story for men too. There’s a sharp pang of shame that comes with having to ask the younger fellas to move the couch because your back’s just not up for it anymore.
And so for most of us, it feels like life peaks at 25, and it’s nothing but downhill from there.
And in a culture that prefers to batch older people together in concentration camps / aged care facilities rather than celebrate and honour its ‘elders’, there’s not much to look forward to.
And given there’s nothing we can do about it (despite what the Ponds Institute would tell us), we kind of just drop into a grumbling resignation. We hate the ageing journey, but we feel disempowered by it because there’s nothing we can do about it.
Talk about a sh!t sandwhich.
So these days I’m working on an alternative. Feeling crap about ageing is about as productive as feeling crap about gravity, and who needs crap feelings in their life?
(It’s your mind. You get to choose your attitude, right?)
And so for me, I’m retraining myself to love the ageing process. To see it as a special and amazing thing, and particularly, as a constant journey of improvement.
I have a model for this. Between 5 and 20, I loved getting older. As I got older, I got bigger and stronger, I could do more things, I had more privileges.
I got to walk myself home from school. I could kick a soccer ball across the half-way line. I was allowed to drive.
I was in a rush to get older. I couldn’t wait. It meant more and more awesome things.
So that’s my model. That’s how I want to think about ageing.
I am calibrating my mind to look forward to turning 70, the way I looked forward to turning 18 when I was 12.
Now obviously, they might be actually taking my driving license away from me at 70, so I need to focus on different aspects of awesomeness.
They are subtle, but I feel that they’re there.
For example, how about how painfully self-conscious I was at 20. Ugh. That was such hard work. But every year, I have less and less fux to give. And by 70 I imagine not giving a toss about what people think at all.
What’s another example? Well, as you know, I’m a relentless self-educator. Every year I gain more and more knowledge. What’s more, every year I gain more and more experience, which is the catalyst that turns knowledge into wisdom.
So by 70, based on current trends, I expect to be a wise old bastard.
I also expect I’ll be enjoying life a lot more. Each year, I gain more insight into how to live a good life and how to be happy – how to smash through the blockages that keep the light on my heart dull than it has to be.
By 70, I expect to be having a marvellous time of it.
I know that my superficial beauty and strength will fade. There is nothing I can do about that, so I choose not to feel bad about it. Rather, I choose to focus on what I will gain – I know I am moving into a deeper beauty and power. I don’t expect the world will celebrate me for it. It might be a beauty and power that only other 70 year olds can see.
The point is, when we make self-improvement our life mission, the journey is never over. We are continually expanding into new and wonderful ways of being.
So every birthday from now on, I’ll raise a glass to the more awesome version of me I have become.
And I will be grateful.