They say life is a roller coaster.
While I agree in principle with this metaphorical fact, I have only today come to the realization that it is not the twists and turns and upside down death defiance that make it so. No my friends. When they say life is a roller coaster, what they mean is that you get strapped into a restraint and spend a very, very long and slow chug up hill, listening to the click of the chain, holding tight to your shoulder harness and bracing yourself for the inevitable excitement of the ride.
Once you reach the summit, you have about a 5 second interval during which you look around, stunned by the glorious view from your stellar height. Life is good in those 5 seconds. You have made adulthood. Your opinion is suddenly considered valid. People cease to bully you. You feel at ease in your own skin and stop apologizing for the space you occupy on this planet.
You have been validated. You have ACHIEVED.
Then, quite without warning, the earth falls away, gravity takes over and you begin a precipitous and terrifying plunge toward the end of your metaphorical ride. Yay.
In other words, we spend all our youth trying to grow up, achieve adulthood for a good 5 seconds, and then we are suddenly, and quite without warning, on the other side of the proverbial hill.
I’ll never forget words of wisdom I received from a tiny and ancient little lady called Norah… she was just nearing 70 when I first met her, but she looked at least 100. Still, there was a mischievous twinkle lurking behind the faded slate blue of her eyes. “The heart is a funny thing,” she said sagely, “it never feels old.” I looked at her and, from my 28-year-old perspective, I assumed Norah had always been old. “I still feel 19 in my heart,” she said, “but then I look in the mirror and get a terrible shock…”
Norah was right. I am shocked on a daily basis.
In my mind and in my heart, I still feel young. I mean, seriously, very, very young. Not like I am going to start wearing ripped jeans and get lip implants or go in for a Brazilian butt lift or anything, but I just don’t feel old at all. Which is why it comes as such a rude shock when I am sharply reminded from time to time that I am, indeed, on the OTHER side of that hill, and that I need to just accept it and grow old gracefully. (Is there such a thing?)
Somewhere in time, I stepped over an invisible line. I was old. Everyone knew it but me.
These days, with our human obsession with youth culture – or, at the very least, Hollywood’s obsession with it – those of us on the OTHER side of the hill are feeling perplexed. Do they want us to be old or not?
Take a look at the music charts. Love songs only sell if they are sung by artists who have only just cleared puberty.
I don’t know about you, but when I was 15 I didn’t have the first CLUE what true love was. Still, the teens and the twentysomethings are the love gurus of the universe. They have been, apparently, since the 1950s. Funny how I never realized that until I was well beyond those years.
When I was a girl, old ladies were expected to look old. They were expected to act old. There was no pressure to look like Madonna at 55… once you were 27 or so and had a baby, it was perfectly acceptable to stop chasing grays, tie your hair up in a bun, and everybody was happy.
These days, we are expected to look young pretty much forever. Which, as far as I am concerned, is not a bad thing. I don’t have many grays. I am only 48. Sure, I’m a grandmother, but I’m not dead yet. I play frisbee… I ski… I can lift weights. Did I mention, I’m not dead yet?
But here is the kicker: As young as you ever look, as young as you ever feel, you are NOT, in fact, young.
If you are ever in doubt, try dancing at a party. You pretty soon suss out that people are not laughing with you – they are laughing at you.
Try opening a Twitter account. It is like a foreign language… and I am not computer illiterate by any stretch of the imagination! Yeah, that’ll make you feel a proper granny…
Try telling a 28-year-old that you write a blog. Watch them dissolve into gales of laughter and say, “You? YOU? REALLY? You gotta be joking me!” (Blogging is, apparently, like Twitter, like Instagram, like ripped jeans and dance music, clearly the exclusive property of the young. As in under 35. Goodness, what on EARTH could someone of my age possibly have to say that was worth reading?)
As young as the world expects us “old people” to look, they still really, in their hearts, are quite happy for us to just be old.
I think I’ll go warm myself by the fire and lick my wounds.
And update my life insurance…
Originally posted on facebook.com/motherhendiaries.com 10 May 2014
- feature photo: Shutterstock
- R.I.P.: costumeexpress.com
- OneD: directlyrics.com
- Evelyn Keyes: en.wikipedia.org
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