…or The Annual Waxing Philosophical on my Birthday post.
I was inspired to write this from reading this Daily Spark post this morning.
I was inspired to write this because what he is saying is so very true.
Youth is highly desired and valued in our culture. It is prized over wisdom. Foolish, perhaps, because youth is impulsive and it is vain and it can be superficial. Not enough respect is given to wisdom. Some people go through tremendous, sometimes dangerous lengths to achieve or recapture their youth because they think that doing so will make their problems disappear. But you cannot recapture the past. There are no do-overs in life. You can only move forward and make the most of the time you do have. When you try to capture something you think you lost, you lose out on so many wonderful moments in the here and now.
Today I turn 40. To some people, it’s the end of the world, the end of youth, the end of everything. To me, it’s a new beginning and a time to celebrate. It is not the end of the world to me. But I did not always feel this way. I had to come to terms with and accept it before I could get to this point. It’s also time to get rid of the baggage I still carry.
I have no desire to be twenty again. I did not like myself very much when I was twenty. Most of my life, I have weathered some pretty rotten things. I still carry some of the baggage from that to this day. But having weathered the bad times and the rotten luck has made me into the person I am today.
Yes, I have lines around my eyes. I am proud of those lines. Those lines show the world that in spite of some really bad things I had to go through, I never lost my ability to laugh. Some people would say, “Honey, there is nothing in life that is that funny.” To which I reply, “Then you have no sense of humor.” I pity those people who don’t know how to laugh. For me to apply a cream, or have a doctor inject botulism toxin (which is what Botox is: a toxin) into those crinkles around my eyes is to deny something about myself that I cherish: the ability to laugh, even when things are bad or hopeless.
A moment of digression: I can’t understand why someone would willingly have a toxin injected into their faces to smooth out wrinkles. When I hear the word botulism, which is what the “bo” in Botox stands for, it makes me think of a book I read when I was a kid: Trixie Belden and the Mystery at Maypenny’s. In this story, girl detective Trixie Belden gets embroiled in a mystery involving a furniture company that wants to come into town and wants to locate on a piece of land that partially belongs to Mr. Wheeler and part to Mr. Maypenny. There were mysterious dead ducks showing up in the Wheeler’s game preserve. The ducks died of botulism. So when I hear the word Botox, I wonder why someone would willingly inject into their faces a substance that can kill animals, so they can look younger.
The phrase “age is but a number” is a cliché, but it is so very true. Forty does not mean the end of fun. I fully intend on enjoying life. I don’t feel old, either. To lose the ability to have fun is the end of everything to me. The day I stop laughing, the day I stop having fun, is the day I die. I don’t want to be like my parents. When they were in their forties, they were old. They acted old. They forgot how to have fun. That being said, my definition of “fun” has changed since I was younger. No longer is it fun to get absolutely hammered and wake up feeling like I just crawled out of a sewer while the little person who has taken up residence in my head is screaming in my ear and won’t stop.
Today, at 40, I feel much better physically than I did at 20. Mentally, too. I am in much better shape than I was at 20. I’m a lot happier and I have more confidence in myself. And this feeling is why I log my food every day. This feeling is why I go online to look at restaurant menus and plan what I am going to order when I go out to eat. This feeling is why I pack my own lunch every day instead of eating out of the vending machine at work. This feeling is why I make myself go to the gym when I don’t feel like it. This feeling is why I make myself pop Biggest Loser Boot Camp into my DVD player when I don’t feel like going to the gym and know I still have to exercise. This feeling is why work my ass off at the gym or at home to burn calories. This feeling is why I do the work instead of taking the easy way out.
I have become comfortable in my own skin now. This is something that can only happen over time and with the wisdom gained through age and dealing with my own issues. No plastic surgery or quick fixes will help you become comfortable in your own skin. Only time and a little sweat equity will accomplish this.
Don’t wish for the past. Cherish the memories, but accept the present. Enjoy and cherish the time you have now. Learn to become comfortable in your own skin. Wear the crinkles around your eyes as badges of honor. Take each experience as a life lesson. Embrace the wisdom you gain each day from those lessons you’ve learned. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Take responsibility for your actions.
And don’t be afraid to face those things you fear most about yourself: The Truth. The Truth hurts sometimes, but you gain the most wisdom when you can face The Truth head on, acknowledge it, and learn from it. When you can do this, then you will be truly set free.