For the next few weeks in November, I will be helping my friend Ann celebrate her birthday in various ways. Ann turns “39 + 11” at the end of November…. and Ann is not thrilled by the “11” part and not wanting to even admit to the extra “11”. Here she is age 24.
I’ve told her that the 5th decade can be wonderful, and actually has been an exciting time in my life, some of the happiest really…. But she’s not convinced yet.
One of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, put it this way in her book “Plan B, further thoughts on faith”
Lamott’s take on aging….page 171-172
I smiled with a secret smile of pleasure in being older, fifty plus change, which can no longer be considered extremely late youth, or even early middle age. But I would not give back a year of life I’ve lived.
Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life- it has given me me. It has provided time and experience and failure and triumphs and time-tested friends who have helped me step into the shape that was waiting for me. I fit into me now. I have an organic life, finally, not necessarily the one people imagined for me, or tired to get me to have. I have the life I longed for. I have become the women I hardly dared imagine I could be. There are parts I don’t love- until a few years ago, I had no idea that you could have cellulite on your stomach- but not only do I get along with me most of the time now, I am militantly and maternally on my own side.
Left to my own devices, would I trade this for firm thighs, fewer wrinkles, a better memory?
You bet I would. That is why it’s such a blessing that I’m not left to my own devices. I have amazing friends. I have a cool kid, a sweet boyfriend, darling pets. I’ve learned to pay attention to life, and to listen. I’d give up all this for a flatter belly? Only about a third of the time.
I still have terrible moments when I despair about my body- time and gravity have not made various parts of it higher and firmer. But those are just moments now- I used to have years when I believed I was more beautiful if I jiggle less, if all parts of my body stopped moving when I did. But I know two things now that I didn’t at thirty: That when you get to heaven, we will discover that the appearance of our butts and our skin was 127th on the list of what mattered on this earth. And that I am not going to live forever. Knowing these things has set me free.
Yes, the 50’s are all about freedom and something special to celebrate... even if you have to throw yourself your own party!