â€œGail, go out and fetch the mail. Iâ€™m getting to old to do all that running around.â€
As a kid I used to feel irritated with that line of thinking. It seemed to me that the adults in my life had plenty of energy to do the things they wanted to do, but ran out when it was something that didnâ€™t suit them. Having my elders claim a sudden debilitating case of old age didnâ€™t make me feel youthful and spry, it made me feel like a lackey. I promised myself that I would never use that line on someone younger than me as I grew older, and as of today I donâ€™t believe I have.
Iâ€™m not bringing this up to start an early petition for sainthood on my part, although if you insisted Iâ€™d be loath to stop the momentum. â˜º No, Iâ€™m mentioning it because I have seen how the â€œtoo oldâ€ ideology spreads like the flu throughout a personâ€™s attitude and damages a healthy self-esteem.
How often have you heard someone say, â€œIâ€™ve always wanted to try that, but itâ€™s too late now.â€ Huh? Too late? Why? Has some mythical expiration date turned a long shelved goal sour? Says who? And if this â€œsomethingâ€ really mattered throughout your life, why not give it a shot now?
How often have you heard someone say, â€œIâ€™d love to wear that but itâ€™s just not age-appropriate.â€ Again, says who exactly? Hereâ€™s an exampleâ€¦what is the worst thing that could happen if, at age seventy-five, you decide to wear a bright red pencil skirt? Social stoning? I donâ€™t think so. A wolf whistle? Envious stares from your less saucy friends? Those last two, which I believe are more likely, seem pretty non-scary to me. Hey, maybe try some red lipstick too!
How often have you heard someone say, â€œIf I were only twenty years younger Iâ€™d ________.â€ Okay, there are some things where age is a consideration at the moment, like conception and childbearing, if you are a woman. But even so, many women have found mothering later in life (through a surrogate, IVF, adoption, foster care, or mentoring) offers advantages over more youthful times. Examples of famous moms giving birth in mid-life include: Holly Hunter who gave birth to twin boys at 47. Iman, the supermodel wife of David Bowie, had a daughter, Alexandria, at 45. Susan Sarandon had her second son, Miles Guthrie, at 45. Tell me again why the â€œIf I were only twenty years youngerâ€¦â€ matters.
As I continue to speak with middle-aged women Iâ€™ve come to hear one thing loud and clear, and it is this… â€œDo it now.â€ Stop making excuses, stop using age as a weapon or a defense, and stop filling your thoughts with reasons why you canâ€™t. We are given one life of indeterminate length. Live it.
Claudia Kittock says
Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this!! We completely and totally agree on this entire topic, and, I think are great examples of this. How old were YOU when you completed your master’s degree? I STARTED running at 53, ran my first 5K at 56, and climbed an active volcano AND zip lined at 6700 feet at age 62. WHEN are we too old?
Brilliantly written and reasoned, but I’ve come to expect no less from you!!
This sounds dangerously close to a love letter, but you inspire me daily. And although your birth certificate “dates” you, there is nothing, NOTHING, in your zest for life that does. Shine on, my dear. Your light matters.