I can't tell you the number of conversations I've had lately with various people in a variety of places in which the topic of aging has come up. Along with that topic, invariably the issues of illness and decline emerge. And nearly always someone will quip, "Aging isn't for sissies." Indeed, it isn't.
So when I read today in Suzanne Braun Levine's book, Inventing the Rest of Our Lives, that sociologist Pepper Schwartz had said the following, I was reminded that this is the other side of the coin:
"The only reward for aging is a sense of some honest friendship with yourself, where you get to know yourself—you make peace with the things you are and you aren't." She added that you see your life "filtered through a unique lens rather than a cultural one."
Levine then adds, "In other words, intimacy begins at home. Before you can establish your authority, you need to know the sound of your own voice. Before you can take up space, you must be aware of your boundaries—and your reach."
Sometimes we need those reminders that aging isn't all about decline and new illnesses we never wanted. It is also a wonderful stage of life when we are comfortable in our own skin, where we have become friends to ourselves and have made peace with our experiences and how we've faced them. It's a time when we can own what we can and can't do.
So, yes, aging isn't for sissies—and it also isn't a time to long for the "good old days" of youth when we lacked confidence and a knowledge of ourselves. Stand tall in the truth and beauty of who you are now. Name it. Claim it.