How do you age gracefully? I think a lot about it now that I am 45. And no, I am not afraid to say it. I cannot believe that I reached such age. Anything beyond 25 did not exist for me for a long time. When I turned 25 I thought the world was over. When I turned 30 the world was over again. When I turned 40 I could not believe it and that disbelieve has carried on through 45. Now that I am reaching middle age I remember my mother saying how you still feel 15 and when you look in the mirror you don’t recognize your self. It’s like a cold shower that stings with pain. I now know that feeling.
How do you age gracefully when you don’t have a legacy to leave behind? I don’t have kids, so the meaning of my life is different. It is easier to have the meaning when you have kids, They are your meaning and the legacy. School lunches, soccer, dance lessons, worrying about their future instead of yours, what university they will go to, what they will become, do you raise them right. All of that makes life busier and to some degree valid. Us who don’t have kids have to invent ourselves and the reasons for living. I don’t mean to sound gloomy. It’s the truth. For us, life becomes an art form. You have a blank canvas and hope you will have brushstrokes that will fill it with a beautiful image. It takes a tremendous amount of effort because we have to look deep into our selves to find the brush and the color. I don’t mean to belittle the people with kids. On contrary, I am jealous of them. I want to have this kind of meaning as in you know what you have to do.
So I have a dog. Although he is not my legacy and will not outlive me he is a comfort and a meaning giver in a sense that every walk, every hike becomes purposeful. You don’t just wander alone with the head full of thoughts, you walk the dog. He needs the exercise and you don’t have a choice of not giving it to him especially when you live in an apartment.
Sometimes I wish I did not have a dog. If I did not have a dog I would travel more. If I did not have a dog I would probably have a high-stress job with a tech company and my job would be my meaning. If I did not have a dog I might have dated and socialized with co-workers after work more (not that I want to, and having a dog is the best excuse to not to). But I do have a dog. By choice. Because the benefits outweigh the cons. Nothing can compare to the companionship of the furry one. They love you no matter what. They know when you are sad even if you don’t realize it at first. You know when you are sad because your beastie all of the sudden is by your side looking for a head rub or just sitting quietly by you waiting for you to press your forehead to his. It is the best feeling when you do. They get you outside rain or shine and make you enjoy the rain because otherwise, it would be dreadful. They split your dinner because how can you not when the pooch is sitting in front of you looking straight into your eyes salivating. They sleep by your side or at the very least jump to your bed in the morning to snuggle before your alarm beeps. They love you no matter what.
So, how do you age gracefully? I don’t know. I know that I don’t color my hair anymore. I let it be the salt and pepper that it is.