We place so much emphasis on the aging process. I watch people nipping and tucking and trying desperately to reverse the natural process of evolution. Women will do just about anything to prolong the inevitable progress. Men go through midlife crisis by buying sport cars and going after younger women. Our social status changes and diminishes with each passing year. Social media and cosmetic industries profit from the fear, obsession, and compulsion of ageism.
When I was about to turn 30 I remember going through the emotional roller coaster and feeding into the myth of departing youth. What truly saved me from spiraling down some stupid depression (over the imaginary issue of time) was that my daughter, Angelica, arrived from Romania on my birthday. For over a year I had gone through the tedious adoption process. I was exhausted by the time my birthday came around. My two sons and family celebrated this incredible arrival in the airport. All disillusions of age disappeared when I picked her up from the plane. Turning 30 never felt so good. That day I released the stigma placed in our society of getting old, especially at thirty!
When I turned 40, a five years ago, I celebrated. Within those twelve months that marked my “mid-life” I ended an eighteen year relationship, left my business, moved away and began truly living an authentic life. That was the year I realized that age is measured by how we reach success within the parameters of a social number. We are taught and programmed to base our lives on how much has been done by certain years. These events (or lack of events) place all sorts of stress that imprison each of our lives. Status and achievements seem to be how we perceive our personal identities. After overcoming many obstacles I learned several secrets to delaying the aging process: Happiness is the best wrinkle cream. Compassion is the cheapest Botox injection. Harmony is the miracle anti-depressant drug. Meditation is your own spiritual guide and teacher. A smile is the ultimate face lift. Laughter is sexy at any age. And, forgiveness is the real fountain of youth.
This morning I went to the supermarket to grab some things for the weekend. I bought two bottles of wine to gift my friend for her birthday. When the cashier scanned them I smiled at her and joked, “I remember when I used to get carded.” She laughed and said, “A lot of people get upset when you card them and others when you don’t. It’s a tricky subject…the aging thingy.”
I smiled at the pretty-twenty-something girl who is far from understanding “the aging thingy.” Then I answered, “The most beautiful part of aging is the knowing and accepting that you’ve had a life. Aging is a privilege and a compensation for this journey full of experiences. I wouldn’t trade a single moment of youth for the place where I am right now.” She paused for a second, smiled, handed my receipt and thanked me. I saw in her eyes the expression of an “aha moment.” I don’t know if she understood all my mumble-jumble. Perhaps she was just being polite.
I walked to my car admiring the rain forming over the mountains. I could smell the humidity in the air. I noticed the clouds sweeping by and the gift in the calmness of it all. I felt the cool breeze brushing against my face and a chill saluting my body. And just like that I realized that to be young again would mean never noticing this world and all its beauty. I wouldn’t be able to find the serenity in the simple things because being young feeds the fallacy that aging is appalling, indescribable, yucky, unforgiving, and unattractive. I remember my mother always saying, “If I could go back to being young but knowing what I know now….!” I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t share the secret of “knowing what I know now” when I was still young. All she would say was that I had to experience it myself. If given the chance to go back I would decline. I rather continue moving forward because the best parts of my life are waiting in the distance. Aging never looked lovelier.
Photo Credit: healthtipsbox.com
About the Author: Millie A. Mestril
After raising six children, working in the corporate world, and being part of a relationship for eighteen years, I found that happiness was not consistent in my world. I left the business world, ended a relationship that was deteriorating and headed to the mountains. My best friend and I bought a small motel in the middle of gorgeous country and began the greatest journey. What started as a visit to Asheville in May of 2010 became a permanent home for us. Now with only one teenager at home, I am able to be part of a wonderful world of meeting people from all walks of life. We’ve transformed an old gem of a place into a sweet and quaint oasis for others to find peace. To those looking into our lives it seems we saved Peaceful Quest Retreats, but the reality is that this place saved us. Every day brings joy, inspiration and a zest for life I never knew existed. The lessons have not always been easy but the ride has been scenic and delightful. I can’t imagine ever returning to a life that was not authentic to my spirit. ~ Millie A. Mestril