Sadly, time is no longer on my side. Even though I still think of myself as middle aged, I am actually well past the mid-point of my life and fast approaching the “golden years.” Which means I am always startled (and not in a good way) by what I see in the mirror every morning, and that I have learned to accept that all the hair dye, concealer, push-up bras and cosmetic procedures in the world aren’t ever going to make me look young again. And I’ve gotten used to that, I really have. Because at this point in my life, I’m much more concerned with making sure that I don’t waste any of the precious time I actually have left.
A healthy perspective is one of the few gifts of aging, but I think it is a very valuable one. I no longer believe I can put off the important stuff, counting on a tomorrow that may never come. If something is important, it deserves to be done now, or at least as soon as possible. Procrastination is a luxury reserved for the young.
Beyond that, I have a much better sense of what is truly important. I used to waste far too much time trying to push myself into situations that didn’t work for me, just because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. I wasted even more time trying to get the approval of almost everyone in my life, even from people who made it clear time and time again that I wasn’t living up to their expectations. Now I know that life is too short to waste on people who don’t enrich my life, who aren’t willing to accept me as I am, or who seem intent on trying to shape me into whoever they happen to think I ought to be.
Last weekend, I visited the small town in Kansas where I lived during my preteen and teenage years. I got together with dear friends I have stayed close to for over forty years, and also got the chance to reconnect with old friends I haven’t seen in far too long. It was a wonderful weekend full of laughter and memories, and we had a terrific time acting (almost) as silly as we did when we actually were young. And when the weekend drew to a close, we all agreed that we needed to get together again, sooner rather than later. Because we aren’t getting any younger, and we’re no longer willing to wait quite so long to hang out with people whose company we enjoy so much.
When I was young, I honestly believed that I had all the time in the world to do the things I wanted to do, to spend time with the people I loved, and to chase after each and every one of my dreams. Now I know better, which could be rather depressing. But I choose not to look at it that way. Instead, I have come to see my aging as a gift that forces me to realize that time is an incredibly valuable commodity, and that I need to spend it wisely. I just wish I hadn’t waited quite so long to figure that one out.