Recently, I celebrated a birthday. I’m fortunate that this annual occasion occurs during the warmer months of the year. So indulging in frozen yogurt decadence and enjoying a long, scenic walk, two of my favorite pasttimes, are quite achievable activities to mark this anniversary. But as I get older, thoughts on the physical consequences of age are much more prominent in my mind, somewhat diminishing the festive aspects. But I also feel inspired by what aging represents as I consider this facet of life from multiple angles.
Generally speaking, I feel this inevitable process with the gradual appearances of different aches, an awareness of sensitivities I’d never noticed before. Despite this unavoidable reality, though, I see the steady advance in years through a positive lens rather than as simply a stark truth. This is because I view growing older as a rich source of wonderful possibilities. In fact, it opens up numerous benefits that I find so fascinating to examine. More specifically, I think of aging as a way to measure development, the ability to improve over a substantial span of time, and, overall, to become more aware. Those dimensions, each with its own intriguing complexities, embody one of the greatest advantages of age, an essential effect of the accumulation of years that I most definitely value.
Now, I realize the passage of time can be interpreted in very different ways, not always with productivity as the main objective either. So growth isn’t always a given. But for my part, I appreciate the forward movement built into time’s continuum, which I use to identify the progress I strive to achieve. Moment by moment, I remain focused on the goal of getting better, of significantly improving in certain areas that matter to me.
With the stiffness in my knee that I feel every so often, I mentally celebrate every tiny advance I make as a writer. Although I’m not the boasting type, I do want to share my modest triumphs as they relate to the topic of this specific blog. Therefore, in my continuous effort to improve, I appreciate that I’ve learned to write in a more seamless manner, removing any unnecessary words and repetitive phrases. Whether it involves refining narrative descriptions, greater skill in weaving scenes together, or an overall enhancement in translating the stories that I imagine into sentence form, I’m grateful for this progress, however incremental. These quiet victories help me feel better equipped to face the unknown before me. They also foster an incessant thankfulness for this growth, enriching the undefined timespan that I’ve been granted.
In turn, I try not to dwell on the various bodily aspects that appear without warning, especially when an ice pack or a couple of tablets of an over-the-counter pain medication can ease any mild discomfort. These changes in my physicality are the result of time’s relentless forward motion, a speed that I cannot control. They’re a reminder that I take seriously, alerting me to the limitations ahead so I always stay focused as I work toward meeting my goals. It’s convenient to assume a luxurious expanse exists on an everlasting basis, even though mortality is bound to happen. So I find a generous blend of gratitude and concentration keeps me on track, where I never take the gift of time for granted while also making the most of these moments by writing.
Admittedly, though, my writing doesn’t always flow in the manner that I might wish despite the best of intentions. Constant self-criticism, when too intense to be managed, can obstruct my ability to craft sentences in a meaningful way, creating barriers that I find difficult to overcome. It’s at these junctures that I try to be patient with myself, to take a step back and be philosophical so as to ease the reproach, which has a tendency to materialize when I encounter these obstacles.
Ironically, thoughtfulness and perspective, two characteristics I’ve only attained with age, are routine intrusions that block my ability to write. In college, I could generate essays at a rapid pace that awed my father. I remember how he’d often remark on the speed of my writing with admiration. As I think back to that time, though, I suspect those papers lacked depth and methodical care in their structure, probably falling short in their ability to analyze with thorough, concrete detail, too. If I were given the chance to ask my dad today about the caliber of those essays, he’d most likely agree that they would’ve benefited from serious revision. For these reasons, my writing demands much more time now. Age has made me meticulous, not so cavalier about sharing ideas that haven’t been scrutinized, revised multiple times, and shaped with precision.
I think age can inspire this level of valuable consciousness. With a foundation of experience, the product of numerous years of potential experimentation, those of an advanced age possess a standpoint that youth doesn’t necessarily supply. In my view, there is wisdom in having a history, synonymous to research that may be accessed and applied as needed to a particular situation or circumstance.
This is exactly the reason why I’d never question someone’s capacity in terms of age alone. Whenever I hear criticism of an individual based on such broad generalizations, where an immediate dismissal involves the number of decades on Earth without any other data, I’m skeptical. It’s quite amazing what people who fall into the category of senior citizens can accomplish. And much of that ability may actually center on an impressive storehouse of knowledge, great training, professionalism, and maturity which can be utilized, in many cases, for the betterment of society.
So, in my view, the wringing of hands, the panic over giving an elderly person significant responsibility, conveniently overlooks the inherent importance of skill and experience. Furthermore, it diminishes an individual’s value with a simplistic assessment. An evaluation that solely judges chronological years without any appreciation for or acknowledgment of the multifaceted capacity this individual may offer is unacceptable. Indeed, a younger person shouldn’t automatically receive more serious consideration due to youthfulness. That’s not a qualification when the respective role requires an essential mastery, a specialized understanding, which quite frequently comes with time.
As I get older, I am much more sensitive to the wide array of complexities represented by age. While this inevitable progression is frequently regarded in a negative light, I also see such a wonderful assortment of positive attributes. The best one, in my opinion, revolves around fusing experience with determined focus to gain a specific expertise. It takes time to master any kind of an art form and age could be seen as representing that process. I’m proud of the history my life reflects thus far, an assemblage of different experiences that has adventurously directed me to focus on writing, to develop that ability. Therefore, the age I’ve just acquired is entwined with my identity, one I’m delighted to own.
So I’ll face the physical changes that are destined to occur as I get older, handling each one with the knowledge of aging’s inevitabilities. At the same time, though, I’ll also feel grateful for the time I have to become a better writer, to develop my voice as much as possible. And with each birthday, I’ll still look forward to delectable frozen yogurt covered with chocolate sprinkles after walking the paved paths of my favorite forest preserve, absorbing the intricate beauty around me. Alongside the unstoppable progression of years, my steps may falter, but I’ll never stop appreciating the endless possibilities that experience and a desire to achieve offer as time unfolds.