Somehow, I've gotten old.
Although my kids constantly tell me I'm ancient, it didn't really hit me until a couple of days ago.
I didn't have a particularly difficult day, wasn't pulling out gray hair (I like gray hair!), didn't have a geritol moment.
My little sister turned 40.
Somehow, that made me a whole lot older than my turning 50 will.
During that day, I saw or heard numerous references to aging, and nearly all of them were negative.
One was a suggestion that a man would no longer be interested in a woman as she got older. And vice versa.
There were several ads portraying elderly people as sick or with limited mobility. Or with dementia. As if these things are inevitable.
A lament about losing hair.
And on and on.
Here's the thing.
If you don't die young, you get old.
Why does this culture have such an anti-age bias?
Whatever happened to cultures who honor their elders, and appreciate the years of experience, and perhaps wisdom, accumulated by those people?
I sure as hell know more now than I did when I was in my twenties.
I'm a better person, too. More committed, more focused. More able to navigate interpersonal difficulties. Kinder. More patient. Better able to discern what is important from what is not.
But yes, I have some gray hair, some aches and pains, and I am reaching the point of being all too aware of my mortality.
One of the interesting things about being an EMT is that I meet a lot of older people. They are often the ones who call for medical assistance, partly because they have more medical issues, but also, often, because they have no one to drive them to the hospital.
So far, in this little town, all of those people have been wonderful folks. I wish I could meet them in a less stressful way, and spend time talking- or mostly, spend time listening. Some of them have lived here forever, I think, and have a wide variety of interesting stories.
This is a largely unappreciated resource.
I'm certain that they have no idea how positively they have affected me, giving me living proof that contrary to popular belief, cultural bias, and common fears, "old age" just might be an okay place to get to some day.