To be defiant about age may be better than despair – it’s energizing – but it is not progress. Actually, after fifty, aging can become an exciting new period; it is another country. – Gloria Steinem
I’m looking for that new country.
When I was a kid, I hated to be limited by rules. Oh, I followed them, but I hated them. So many were ridiculous.
- Try not to show off that you’re smart.
- Wear flats so you’re shorter than the boy.
- Smile and listen. Nod your head. Act interested.
- Don’t raise your voice. Control your emotions.
- Act like a lady.
As I got older, I started to question those constraints, and I’m proud to say that every year, I break more of them.
Important habits, like learning how to be more honest about what I think and need.
And kind of silly ones, like letting my hair go gray because I’m happy with it and I don’t care what the culture thinks.
Because I don’t accept that “old” is an insult.
As an author, I write about older people, because I’m fascinated by the incredible drama we go through. Like after you fall in love, start a career and family, and create a life, what happens after that? At that point, you may have as many productive years left as it took to raise your kids.
Older people have a second coming-of-age to go through,
and now the stakes are higher.
This is the time of life to make it happen, reexamine choices, and forge new paths. The clock is ticking, so we’re on fire to make that time count. We have dreams. We lay out goals and objectives like anybody else. We start businesses. We cook up schemes. We fall in love.
We throw the Hail Mary pass, risking everything, just like young people.
But here’s where it gets interesting: on top of that, we face unique obstacles because of age, whether illness or death, or life-threatening heartache. Our characters deepen. We might decide to stop being doormats, or take a stand, or make the greatest sacrifice of our lives.
All this while our bodies and faces are changing, and society thinks we’re a joke.
That’s the midlife coming-of-age story. How could anybody think it unimportant?
As fascinating as the kids are, I think old peeps are even more interesting. We may not be as pretty, but we’re more devious and complicated. And so are our stories.
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