“The years teach much which the days never knew.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today I was confronted with the stark contrast between 20 and 50. While in between classes at the CorePower Hollywood studio, I went to my locker to retrieve an apple, since I hadn’t eaten since that morning. I struck up a conversation with Teresa Michelle, a fellow instructor, about that fact, when one of our young clients—probably no older than 25— chimed in about how she never forgets to eat.
Me: “Neither do I, but the day’s been busy, so I haven’t had opportunity to eat another meal.”
Young Girl: “My grandma forgets to eat, I guess because she doesn’t have an appetite—I don’t understand that either.”
Me: “With age comes a diminishing of smell and taste receptors, major factors in stirring our hunger; hence you don’t have much of an appetite.”
Young Girl: “So what’s the point of growing old? Doesn’t seem to have any benefits!”
Me: “Sure it does: Wisdom. Experience. Confidence. But you’re still young, so you won’t understand it for a while yet.”
I walked out to imbibe my apple, shaking my head at the boneheaded statement that you can only make when you lack the perspective of years. Being 25 (or more) years ahead of that young girl, I had a wealth of perspective to draw from; hard-won, duly earned, with the battle scars to prove it. Having lost friends and loved ones to death way too soon, I can testify to the benefits of growing old. One of them is reinvention: starting over, beginning again, or improving on what you have.
I can also tell you this: I would never want to go back to the yawning insecurity and emotional instability of my 20s. I think it was around 35 that I stopped giving, as the young folks say, “zero fucks” about how I looked, what I ate, what others thought of me, etc., and just lived life and embraced the years with all its permutations and changes. It is indeed a privilege, but in our youth-obsessed, botox- and plastic surgery-enabled culture, it is rarely given a positive mention or the attention it deserves.
As I age gracefully, I’ll work to change that; one benighted 20-something at a time.