Exploring the beauty, power, and splendor of age…as the veil thins.
It’s Samhain season, and I’m thinking about the magnificent privilege of growing old.
Samhain (October 31st in the northern hemisphere) translates to “summer’s end.” As the harvest season concludes, we gather what we have sown and prepare to enjoy the fruits of our labor in the cozy winter months. Perhaps we contemplate what we’ve learned and organize it into wisdom we can remember, share, and pass along to future generations. We enjoy the subtle colors and varied depth of the landscape even as it reminds us of our own mortality and the uncertainty of the length of our days.
We also think of our loved ones who are on the other side.
In other words, Samhain is midlife in microcosm – a rich, precious, and beautiful time.
My cousin Logan and I were born only a couple of months apart. Inseparable as children, he and I were always close. Logan died of a brain tumor when we were both 29. I’m 46 now, and whatever else I might feel about birthdays, with every year that passes, I remember Logan, and miss him, and wish he were here with me, growing old.
Aging is truly a gift.
But it’s not just the quantity of my time that I value. It’s also the way my moments get richer and deeper as the years go by, and the way the light of eternity starts to shine through even the most mundane aspects of my life conditions, casting everything in a gorgeous golden glow.
You can choose to believe aging is terrible, or you can choose to believe it’s wonderful. Whatever your choice, your belief will certainly prove itself to be true.
Here are some of the blessings of growing old, as I see them. Let us continually show up for our spiritual work so we can consciously cultivate these glowing blessings, lovingly burnish them, and coax them to shine.
You Will Love and Approve of Yourself More.
In last month’s Vanity Fair, rock star Melissa Etheridge answered the Proust Questionnaire, which included the question, “What do you most dislike about your appearance?” Her answer: “I gave up disliking my appearance ’cause that’s crazy making. Especially in women. I love my appearance.” In answer to the question, “If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?” she answers, “Again, not gonna change anything about myself. I’ve really learned to appreciate everything.”
I say, let’s all be like Melissa. It certainly does get easier as the years go by. Or, at least, it can if you practice. Just keep showing up for yourself and your self-love, again and again and again.
You Will Let Go of Fear.
The older we get, the bolder we get. We see that most of the stuff we used to worry about never actually happened, and even when it did happen, it almost invariably turned out to be fine. As a child, I remember often being an absolute wreck: I worried that I would be bullied, or get an illness, or say something embarrassing and want to die. In my teens and twenties, same/same, but different.
In so many ways, our perspective helps us to keep getting more and more fearless as the years go by. Which is such a relief.
You Will See What’s Really Important (And What’s Not).
My dad runs a funeral chapel, which is has been the family business for generations.
The older I get, the better I understand why the little things never seemed to upset my dad. For example, if my brother or I got in a fender bender, he was never worried about the car: he was just glad we were okay.
All I have to do is remember my dad’s job and it’s easier to keep things in perspective.
Case in point: I like to remind myself that it really doesn’t matter too much if folks don’t like me. Because you know what? Some folks do. I don’t need every person on earth to like me. Just a few.
Silver Hair Will Grow Out of Your Head (and/or Maybe it Will Fall Out)
Silver hair sparkles. It’s so so pretty in the sunlight and it’s also super flattering for your skin. And the older you get, the more of it will probably grow straight out of your scalp!
But if, on the other hand, your hair ends up falling out, I’ve got two words for you: Patrick Stewart.
Speaking of Patrick Stewart:
You Will Look Fabulous
I may be biased, but I think middle age becomes me. And hey, even if I am biased, who cares? I love having silver hair, grown up lady nails, and a cherished wardrobe that I feel just right in…but it’s not just me. In my opinion, plenty of us look extra fabulous and elegant in our mid-to-later years.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this eye beholds the beautiful dimension we take on as we age. If your eye does not behold that beauty, why not adjust it?
Here’s an Instagram account that might help you do that. Find your favorite photos and you can go down a rabbit hole of midlife/later life beauty.
Oh, and here’s a Spell to Get More Beautiful with Age.
You Will Be Really Good At Stuff
Sure, it’s true that you might not be as good at gymnastics (or other sports). I certainly am not, although I can still sort of do some tricks.
But as you age, there will be some things that you get reallllllllllly good at. If you have a hobby you love, for example, like sewing, or cooking, or reading the classics, your ability to do it will gain a depth and dimension that will bring you even greater joy. Or, if you’ve been practicing a discipline at work, like coding or investing or fixing cars, your accumulated knowledge and experience will start to be truly formidable, and you’ll have so much fun being a master and passing along your wisdom to the new recruits.
Like, I used to write with a cringe all the time, like “Is this good? Am I doing this right?” Now I just get into a zone and enjoy the feeling of flow.
Everyone Will Look Cute to You
Something no one ever mentions about aging is how cute everyone starts to look. What I mean is, when folks in their 20s and 30s start to all look like your nieces/nephews and younger siblings (or kids if you have kids, which I don’t), being out and about in the world is just too adorable. I feel so proud of all these sweet (grownup) kids showing up every day and doing their best. Not in a condescending way, though. Like, in a big sisterly way.
Well, whaddaya think? Obviously these are not the only blessings that come with age, but they are certainly some pretty good ones. I’d like to hear your own favorite things about growing old. Please insert your two cents into the comments below.