Turning 20 was a discombobulated blur. Turning 30 was a miracle as folks had a running bet I’d never survive the discombobulated blur years.
Now I’m turning 40. And it was freaking me the heck out.
Yes, I know, age is just a number. But that number says the average lifespan for women is 79. That means I’m more than halfway there.
My mid-life crisis came at 35, so I don’t even have that to look forward to. That major turning point prompted me to review my life and ask if I was enjoying it.
I was not. So I high-tailed it out of a good-paying job on New York City’s Madison Avenue to chase journalism jobs across the nation.
First stop was rural New Mexico, where I ended up with perpetual culture shock and, eventually, a yard full of goats. You really haven’t lived until you’ve owned goats.
It’s not like I haven’t had my share of keen adventures.
Based on past experiences, I’ll bet those adventures are likely to continue. Yet it is starting to feel as I’m fighting against the clock, the game show contestant with a mere 30 seconds to seal her fate.
But more than mortality is on my now 40-year-old mind. Our society is bent on youth and beauty, often viewing the two as synonymous. Our culture seems to have little respect – or use – for our elders. An elder is often defined as anyone over age 22.
Women definitely suffer from this aging anxiety much more than men. After all, men go grey and are told they are distinguished. Women go grey and are told to buy hair dye. Men with wrinkles are said to be wise. Women with wrinkles are said to need Botox.
You know, the more I ponder this mindset, the more I realize people who think this way can kiss my toe.
Older does not necessarily mean shabbier. I have some prime examples.
The happy Harris couple, Susie and Phil, just celebrated 50 years of marriage and are still going strong. Tucson grandma Eula Slauson is in her 70s and embarking on her second career writing red hot romance novels.
Confidence also grows with age. “I really don’t care what anyone else thinks anymore,” one 70-something woman told me. “I’m saying and doing what feels good to me.”
Did I mention some folks can kiss my toe?
Besides, aging is inevitable. The only way to stay young forever is to die.
My four decades have definitely taught me that struggling against the inevitable only leads to anguish. It’s like the mouse stuck on the glue trap that becomes gooier and gooier the longer he squirms. It’s a pair of Chinese handcuffs.
People who have already gone through 40 are probably rolling their eyes, much the same way I roll mine when a 29-year-old starts lamenting about her upcoming 30th birthday.
Give me a break, I say, 30 is beautiful. With each passing year our talents become sharper, our passions more defined and our lives much richer. I tell her to embrace the world, embrace her age and dammit, live life to the fullest.
I ask if she would really want to relive all those earlier and often discombobulated years with the same mistakes, confusion and headaches or go forward with a clearer direction and a fearless mind.
She usually picks the latter.
Perhaps I should follow my own advice. After all, I already have a good start on living life to the fullest as I’ve experienced the total joy of goats.
Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who aims to make her 40s the best decade yet. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at RynRules.com and Rynski.Etsy.com. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do you think?
What was/is your favorite age?
Your least favorite?
Are you scared of growing older?
Have you ever had goats?