Another year

September 27, 2014

Well, it’s here again, my birthday, which is fine with me. I’ve never been one to dread aging.

I’ve also never been one to consider my birthday a national holiday.

It’s nice if my husband remembers and encourages the kids to act excited. Beyond that, I’m cool with the day going along like any other.

Aging is a fascinating thing. It happens and on some level you know it’s happening.

There is a vague awareness that things are changing.

I’ve been told since I was a child that I have an ‘old soul.’ But I never understood what that meant.

My soul is just my soul – just me – and if I think about it, which usually I don’t, I think that my soul has aged right along with my body.

I am 38 years old, body and soul.

The changes to my body are obvious, when I take the time to notice.

My hands have aged considerably in just the last few months.

I attribute it to the toddler catching every bug. I must wash my hands at least 50 times a day – anything to prevent another fever, another round of sleepless nights.

When I take the time to notice, I vow to wear gloves more, to use more hand lotion. But I know even as I have the thought that I won’t actually do it – partly because life is too hectic to bother with gloves and lotion, and partly because I just don’t care enough.

My hands are getting papery, the skin over my knuckles thinning. They kind of shimmer.  Light is somehow reflected in the way it can off old skin.

And when I really get to thinking about it, looking at my aging hands, I wonder if, as we age, the light doesn’t similarly also reflect off our souls.

When we are young, we absorb the light, the experiences and the world around us.

As we get older, we become mirrors, a reflection of our experiences.

Learning new things becomes more difficult, but teaching becomes easier.

And all of this happens without us really noticing.

We get up every day, go through the motions of eating and bathing and working.

And one day, as if it happened overnight, our hands and our souls have become mirrors, reflecting the light – the wisdom and knowledge of our own experiences.

And yet, I don’t feel any different than I ever did.

I don’t feel wise.

I may, during the rare moments of quiet, feel old.

But even that passes once the hubbub of life resumes.

I only slightly understand those who fear getting old.

I get it that you use lose that youthful glow, the peaches and cream complexion and silky hair, which I agree is disagreeable.

And I understand the feeling that life is getting shorter with each passing day – the urgency to do something amazing now because you are running out of time.

But there is an elegance to the glow of aging, of light reflecting back upon the world, a light that is impossible to obtain or recognize in youth.

Why wear gloves? Why cover up a glow I worked a lifetime to obtain?

This article first appeared in the Lewistown News-Argus and the Sidney (Mont.) Herald on September 27, 2014.