The first three words that come to my mind when I think of ‘Age’ are birthdays, children and old people. Infact age and ageing has been on my mind a lot lately. No, I am not menopausing. Neither am I on the other side of 60. 🙂
My husband is a decade older than me. In my twenties when I met him, that seemed trendy. I was the young girl who liked hanging out with ‘older men’. That may have made me look hipper amongst my girlfriends, if I had any. Personally, he seemed more childlike even then and he certainly is very childlike even now. So an aside in this train of thought would be -age doesn’t seem to have much to do with being childlike – but we will come back to that later.
When we used to go out in my twenties, his friends were in their late 30s and early 40s. They were already established in life and the most obvious display of that to my inexperienced mind was the expensive restaurants we used to dine at. All very fancy and impressive. He was always carefree and in those days, so was I, so needless to say, we had a fun, free and spontaneous time together. All our major decisions were made spontaneously. Get married? Sure, this week! Get a dog?what kind? Get another dog…yes, ofcourse, the first one needs company! Take a new job? Quit a job? Yes, yes absolutely, why not?! We said ‘yes’ a lot, to each other and to ourselves, almost always accompanied by a big smile and warm hug. We felt young and on top of the world…hmm..atleast our world.
Then came the dogs, the house and the kids…in that sequential order. Now I was almost 30 and he almost 40. The spontanaeity stayed but slowed down. His friends became busy with their teenage children woes and loved ‘adult’ conversation on politics, art and society in their free time. The troubles of a super young family (diaper stage) and parenting manuals seemed like baby-talk for them. And in their company, it seemed petty to discuss for him too. He much preferred the politics. I don’t blame him. I would too, if it wasn’t for my 2-year-old throwing up on their dining floor!
Motherhood is a needy stage in life. I needed people around me. I needed the kind assurance of older mums and the crazy frenzy of younger mums around me. I needed other kids in diapers to compare with my kids so I could take notes and do some old-fashioned benchmarking. All this overwhelming need made me reach out and ‘make’ friends who were friends in need. And they were my age. With husbands my age. We met for dinners at each other’s homes and forced ourselves to enjoy ‘games nights’. My 40-year-old husband was bored out of his brains and started calling this group ‘my friends’. Slowly, as the younger years of my kids passed by, I learnt to sort the friends who will stay and the friends who will go from this group of ‘my friends’. All the while, ‘his friends’ stayed and were now in their early 50s. Their kids were in college and they began to center their conversations around second homes and land, travel and investments. Wine became a good friend at this stage and helped me hide my boredom at many such dinner parties. What was extremely amusing at this time however, was all the compliments I began to get from ‘his friends’. Compliments about being young, being pretty, being sexy… yes, it was almost as if the over 50s club had decided that they were now on the other side of young, pretty and sexy. Anyone who was in the ‘young’ side, was an object of admiration. A deep cleavage and high heels helped. Being in-shape gave huge bonus points. Not only to you, but to your husband too. Infact he seemed younger than his years because he had me on his arm to vouch for his virility. When other men were using Viagra to get it up, here’s a man who must have it all, why else would he have a young, beautiful wife?
Now I am on the other side of 35. He thinks of himself as almost 50. His friend’s friends have started passing away! No, seriously. No kidding.
On his birthday, we were out for dinner with his best friends – a couple in their late 50s. Their good friend had just died of a heart attack and they were in mourning. To cheer them up, we took them to a club. To our surprise, there seemed no one else at the club over 18! We felt like we had dropped into our daughter’s prom night, uninvited ofcourse. Even I felt….hmm…old. 🙂
So, does age define us? According to my therapist, age only exists if you let it.
Do all living things age? Or do they get more mature? Animals get stronger as they age and then, one day, they drop dead. Trees get thicker and stronger as they age and then they too just die. Mountains, forests and oceans get higher, denser and deeper with age. Personally, I feel more beautiful, more capable, stronger and sexier now than I ever have. I also feel more intelligent, more courageous and more fearless now than I ever have.
So does age define us? Only if we let it. I sense a divide in people and a deep sensitivity to age. The root cause of this lies in health, or rather, lack of it. As age sets in, urban humans get weaker, fatter and slobbier in their approach to life. They think they get wiser, but they actually get more cynical. Set in their ways, inflexible and rigid are some other words I would use to describe them.
It seems to me that this divide is sensed and exaggerated much more so by the older generation than the younger one. i.e. experience is cited as the most defining factor of age. “you wouldn’t know, it was before your time…you will find out in good time”. Age and experience go together for the most obvious reasons. However, we forget that the body is born with a very deep inner intelligence which goes back centuries and galaxies. Some of us can connect with that intelligence at tender ages whereas others never connect with it at all, no matter how old they get.
So the main take-away for me from this train of thought is – as long as I stay fluid, free in thought and responsive to life, the process of ageing cannot touch me. If I can keep myself developing in age like a mature wine, I can be assured that life will cherish me with care, love and appreciation.
Cheers to that!