No Matter, My Age
It was a big fat birthday, the one I just had. True, I woke up that morning in one of the most glorious places I’ve ever had the privilege to sleep and, true again, I was kissed by men all day, men I didn’t know, who found out the significance of the date and, also true, I was happy all day long and remain so now. But, still. This was the sort of birthday that makes one struggle to justify one’s time on the planet, a birthday that prompts the inner questions of, “What am I doing?” and “What have I done?”, and perhaps even more pertinent, “Is that a wrinkle or a laugh line?”.
I tell myself that this birthday doesn’t bother me in the slightest. After all, I feel terrific, can climb mountains without getting winded or even particularly tired (though I hasten to say I seriously doubt I could climb for three hours straight up in the heat of Bhutan with my hair down, wearing knee high boots and a leather gilet, without a single visible bead of perspiration on my perpetually smiling, totally radiant, face as the Duchess of Cambridge did last Friday. I mean, honestly!) and I feel mentally adequate to practically any task I set for myself. However, I am frequently mistaken for ten years younger than I actually am and I am ashamed to say I hardly ever correct the kindly, short-sighted person making that flattering but inaccurate assumption. This must mean I have at least a little bit of discomfort with the number.
My grandmother dealt with this issue by simply shaving ten years off her age. She continued at a job she enjoyed long past the time when she would have been expected to exit by employing this fib and when she died, well into her nineties, there were people still remarking what incredible skin she had for a woman barely eighty. I am grateful for her genes, particularly as I have no intention of surgically altering my appearance in the always futile effort to look younger. As the guru on aging acceptance, Diane Keaton, so eloquently put it, “No one ever looks younger, just different”. As an unabashed lover of the uniqueness of faces it saddens me no end to see that irreplaceable quality erased in so many, all in the pursuit of the outer illusion of youth. One thing I have learned in my many years is that youth is an inside job. I am lucky to have older friends whose zestful curiosity, playful wit, and sincere empathy cause me to regard them as peers. These people, I know, shall remain young no matter their age. May it be so for me as well.
For those of you with big birthdays on the horizon, here’s what I can tell you. Grab a pencil, you may want to write these down.....
Everything you ever heard about sunscreen is absolutely true, it’s way more important than La Mer.
No matter how you feel, losing five pounds always makes you feel better.
Fruits, vegetables, fresh water, fish, and a little chocolate.
Flip through Vogue for inspiration, it’s not a manual.
Read everything, especially the classics.
Turn off the television, except for Grantchester.
Travel, travel, travel.
Do something creative every day.
Write letters, with pen and paper and pretty stamps.
Kiss, a lot.
Spend less time thinking about how you look. It’s totally true that nobody cares, they really are too busy thinking about how they look to consider you.
Always roll the car windows down on a pretty day.
Stilettos really are a tool of the devil.
Not everyone looks good in a hat.
Everybody really does look good in black.
Plant flowers round your door.
Don't dismiss God because so many people are doing stupid, cruel things in His name.
Sit by the sea whenever you can.
Never stop listening to The Beatles.
And of course, get a dog if you don’t have one. You will always be a thing of utter beauty and goodness in his eyes. No matter your age.
The photo above sits in The Songwriter’s studio. Me, around five I guess. There were two photos taken that day. One, perfectly posed and ladylike, with me smiling carefully so as not to display my missing teeth. That is the one my Mother framed. This one, however, is The Songwriter's favourite as he thinks it shows me as I really was. Here’s the secret, that still who I am. No matter my age.
No matter, my age.
**If you’re interesting in seeing photos from my recent journey, go HERE**