I’ve been thinking more about growing old lately. Why I am more aware of this concept lately is likely because I am facing my own mortality as a new milestone approaches: the age of 40.
Tonight I looked at the staff directories of my old elementary school and my old high school. The teachers who taught when I was a kid have mostly died, left, or retired, except a handful who are remarkably still there. Some kids I went to school with are teaching there and they are among the older teachers now. It’s a weird place to be, this place where everything is turning over and a whole new generation is starting anew. When I was a kid, everything seemed so permanent.
The time I lived in Denmark as a child is becoming a smaller fraction of my life, and my grasp on it has loosened so much that it hardly feels a part of me anymore. The part of me that was once so Danish is now so much more American, and the Danish things in me feel antiquated and artificial now. It was all so long ago. I am out of touch with it–the language, culture, everything. It has all changed and grown without me in it.
Lately I look at people who are my own age and notice they don’t look so young anymore, with sagging skin and extra flesh and greying hair. And then I (shockingly) realize that I am that age, too, and that I also don’t look so young anymore, either. Although I feel inside like I’m the same age I was 10 or 15 years ago.
I don’t know what my point is of this post other than to express that growing old feels surreal. The past seems distant now and not as significant as it used to be. I’ve forgiven and moved beyond much in my past and am able to be present in a way I wasn’t when I was younger. I am less ambitious now. I am more understanding and accepting of others now. Life is hard–for all of us. I feel insignificant and forgotten in a way I didn’t when I was younger, but it is in a way that is not sorrowful, but rather, freeing. It is freeing to be somewhat rid of the past and of expectations that once were there. I don’t have be anybody but myself.
It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to be twice my age–with all my teachers dead, parents dead, classmates and friends and family old or dead. We just have to hold on to this strange ride and roll with the changes. There really is no other option.
This is a photo of Anna at 3 years old having her first ice skating adventure. Look at that curl on her forehead. She was so proud and said it was her dream come true to have those little skates on her feet. I couldn’t possibly love her more. Melting…
What did I do to deserve such deliciousness? Life has been so good to me.