Here I am, for a lifetime!

Nobody tells you this, because getting older is not the kind of subject most people find all that interesting or engaging, but I wish somebody had spoken to me about the pluses of ageing, and trust me, there are a few and they are not to be underestimated.

Yes, it is quite depressing to see one’s body becoming less able, less willing, easing off into the undignified deterioration that silently takes place each day and creeps up on you all of a sudden one fine morning when you look in the mirror. Yes, it is also rather demoralising to lose intellectual ability, concentration skills and that eagerness of your youth to absorb all the knowledge at your reach. Gosh, I remember how in my teens I used to be able to memorise entire books of subjects I was not even that much into, like History of Art. My goal was to get the best grades and apart from the sacrifice of endless hours invested, intellectually my learning was seamless, thriving, limitless. Now, my willingness to learn, my thirst for keeping up with the world is just as eager and sharp, but the in-built tools to do so are somewhat rusty and worn out, saturated from so much use in the past; from firing all cylinders as if my ability to make any kind of impact, to matter would expire by the age of 30.

The pain of feeling the younger generation ‘pushing you aside’ to make way for their own discoveries, trends, ethos, and understanding of how to navigate relationships, the economy, professional pursuits and the meaning of life in general, also rubs salt in the wound of the ageing process. Lord knows, for those of us who have children, the older they become, the more redundant we begin to feel both to them and to the world in general. Their confidence, know-how and freshness is enough to make one forget how much we have achieved in our own life and the fact that like them, we were once young too, full of light, hope, energy, influence and limitless possibilities. Like us too, they will one day, if they are lucky to make it, ponder this very same realisation.

I read something on twitter two days ago which really made me sad. A lady, who said was about to become 65, was pleading with her audience to be liked or retweeted in order to, for once in her life, before either dying or developing Alzheimer’s, become noticed or have any kind of impact on a large scale; to somehow be one amongst the millions of grains of sand which successfully makes an indelible impression on the beach before being washed away by the waves.

It made me very sad, because there is that overwhelmingly dominant and influential opinion around that once you reach a certain age, you are good for nothing, you mean nothing, you add nothing, you offer nothing. We are an intelligent species but we can be so shockingly blind too with the elementary stuff. We are all in this together. We all go through the same cycle of life. It is in our own interest to highly value, nurture and treasure the later years of our life, because just like we all have a beginning, we all have an end. And yet, the moment we begin to age, we are the first ones to throw in the towel, to step aside, cower and hide, giving licence to the rest of the world to ignore and trample on us.

Well, I am not going to silently just step aside and let society, governments or ruthless individuals, men and women, treat me like I am done in this world. You come at me with your youth and your arrogance, and I will serve you a huge dose of perspective and a wake up call, because where I am is where you are also going, so you’ll do well to listen to the pilgrims who have traversed before you that very same road you are now on and are convinced is unique and exclusively paved for you and your own gain and enjoyment.

We can see things that you can’t yet see and have solutions for challenges that you have not yet endured. Our foot, unlike yours, is off the accelerator and we have successfully learnt how to marinade in the spices of all that life has to offer; to relish the traits in others that in our youth we foolishly rejected as irrelevant or unattractive. We have learnt to savour the moment; to discard the prejudices and hang-ups that forced us to live life through someone else’s eyes. If you come at me with your naive understanding and fake manufactured self, telling me I ‘aint no longer got it’, I will tell you that no quality is more alluring, more seductive than being comfortable in your skin and loving yourself, all of yourself; your achy body, crinkly skin and scarred soul. It is only when you accept yourself as you are; when you truly know yourself, that your life acquires the ultimate level of authenticity and freedom which is elusive in our youth. It is only then, in the later part of our lives that we ditch the baggage and learn to soar to the heights we were destined for, and trust me, I would never trade the view and full-on sensory and spiritual presence from up here for the shortsightedness, blind spots and restraining presumptions of my youth.

15 thoughts on “Here I am, for a lifetime!

  1. I had to read this a few times as there are so many details which call out to me.
    Sometimes ‘growing old’ can be both subjective and objective. I don’t see it as a barrier or a wall. I don’t see it as a need for conformity or even as an excuse to start to wind down. Age is merely an evolutionary process. Although some people see it as a time for reflection, I don’t see why this should be cemented into the fabric of society as it is in many western countries. Maturity comes with frailities and a level of nostalgia, but pity and acceptance shouldn’t be biproducts of maturity.
    The young will always be young. Trends will be upended and most youthful naivety will be eventually replaced by the acknowledgment of the encroaching years.

    I often worry that I will die alone and memories of me will fade into the ether. My legacy to the world will be a few words on the pages of time. I know that i worry needlessly. We accept what we have, what we give to the future generations and hope that they learn from the infinite mistakes of my clumsy and ignorant generation.

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    1. Hi Adam. What a wonderfully deep comment. You give me food for thought too. In a way, we all die alone, because it is us that will go whilst every one else around us stays.

      It won’t be just a few of your words that will be remembered. Every interaction we have with another human being, changes us and them; it leaves a mark, an impression. If not what we say to another; how we said it; how we listened or counselled. From the little I know about you, I can honestly say, you will not be easily forgotten. M

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  2. My favorite line is “We…have solutions for challenges that you have not yet endured”. By the way I’m not sure how much perspective you could have yet, from the photo it looks like you’re about 27 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 27??? 😂😂😂 if only, but thanks so much for the compliment! I am 51 in three weeks’ time so yeah, been around a bit! Body ain’t looking too shabby but the lines on my face tell a different story! Bless you for that though! You made my day 😊

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  3. Melanie Whitlock

    Honestly

    It’s very rare that a modern work touches me so. After a friend recently (just this evening in fact) brought this piece to my attention; I’ve had to read it over and over again. It’s beautiful, it’s raw and it’s thought provoking.

    This quote will forever stick with me. ‪“No quality is more alluring, more seductive than being comfortable in your own skin…comfortable with your scarred soul.” ‬

    Thank you for writing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Melanie,

      Thank you so much for your very kind words of encouragement. There is no greater joy for a writer, or wannabe writer in my case, than to learn that someone was deeply touched by our words and reflections.

      Hope you visit again soon.

      Mercedes x

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    1. Hi Helen,

      I really appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment.

      Whilst my post was aimed at both sexes, it is undeniable that people’s attitude towards women getting older is much more unforgiving than towards men.

      Thanks again.

      Mercedes

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  4. Alan Cant

    As already mentioned in another comment, I read this twice to digest everything.

    What a fantastic piece and inspiring to read what might be possible when we embrace every stage of life rather than accept some sort of decline into perceived ‘old age’. The lack of baggage and sense of self particularly resonated and I found myself nodding in agreement.

    Thanks for a great read and bring on the future.

    Liked by 1 person

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