About a month ago, I added a Pedometer app to my phone. I had tried to use a pedometer before, having read and heard so much about the health advantages of counting your steps each day but they never seemed to work. The ones I clipped to my waistband were either too sensitive or too inaccurate and I already wear a watch so I had no interest in strapping on a Fitbit. But suddenly that little foot clad in an exercise shoe icon on my phone has become my new obsession and just the other day I was awarded a new badge that said I had walked 60 miles.
I’ve started, for the possibly millionth time, to be more conscious of physical activity because this month, I celebrated one more rotation around the sun. I honestly have no qualms about aging except for the fact that the physical body tends not to age as well as the spirit and (hopefully) the mind (a fact which can be debatable but fodder for another blog) The human body is truly a use it or lose it entity and for all of its glorious strengths, it can be surprisingly fragile at times.
I have never been one to sweat the milestones. I recall when I turned 30, a good friend asked how I was feeling, knowing that many of our 20 something friends were dreading the aging process. I was a bit puzzled by the question although I have always been fully aware of the angst it causes many, mostly women, sadly, to reach another decade. I truthfully answered my friend that I felt as young as ever because all of my role models at the time were in their 60s and 70s, living life to the fullest, writing, acting, creating, traveling and generally having an awesome life. Compared to their amazing journeys, I still felt like a toddling child.
Fast forward 30 plus years and I am now in that age group I had admired so much back then and to be honest I am amazed. There are times I am not even sure how I got to this point because it doesn’t feel as though that much time has passed. Sometimes I am like the title character in Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” because although I still feel young inside my mirror reflects a face with wrinkles framed with white hair. I don’t begrudge that although I do have a close personal relationship with hair dye. But my wrinkles are a roadmap of laughter, tears, and experiences I would not trade for anything. And all of the scars I bear are the mark of a survivor and a warrior and I would not trade those either.
If I wonder at the passage of time, it could not be more evident than in my two beautiful children. Both are now adults, with successful lives and loves, navigating their own paths and discovering their purpose. I don’t recall any angst from them about growing older although it may be that they have kept those concerns private. Yet if I needed any reminder of where the past 30 years have gone, I just need to look at them. In my view, all birthdays should be celebrated to the fullest. I have already reached an age many never will, a milestone I was never guaranteed, a life of health and love that is never promised or should never be taken for granted. I popped and savored champagne on my special day to give thanks and toast another year.
And remember those role models I had at age 30 and how much I admired their busy, creative lives? Well now I am at their age and honestly, it feels like new beginnings. It’s strange that we rarely celebrate human aging in the same way we celebrate old wines or good scotch or aged cheese. Instead, aging is feared rather than embraced as the natural fullness and maturity of a lifetime. A coming to fruition. New adventures. The next wave of life. Youth or at least the appearance of it seems to be the pursuit we should all be involved in, especially women. I fully reject that thinking and embrace the years I have been gifted with.
My pedometer app tells me that my next level award will be the equivalent of walking from London to Paris. Baring the swim over the English Channel, that sounds like a lovely walk. I imagine passing villages and farmlands, hamlets and towns before arriving in that magnificent City of Light. Besides a birthday, November is the month that reminds us to be grateful for all that we have. So in that spirit, I am grateful that I can still strap on my Nike’s and walk enough steps to cover 60 miles. Paris, here I come.