Eubie Blake was not only an American composer, lyricist and one of our greatest jazz musicians, he was also witty and wise who left behind some of my favorite quotes about life and aging.
“If I'd known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself.” – Eubie Blake (1887-1983)
By and large, we are taking better care of ourselves these days as we age, but there’s no getting around the fact that whether I make peace with it, fight it tooth and nail or do something in between, I am getting older and I haven’t yet decided how I feel about it. “Well, little girl, what do you want to be when you grow up?” Wasn’t it just yesterday I was holding Mme Mère’s hand and looking up at some tall adult asking me that question? I’m still working on that one.
In fact, I still consider myself a work in progress, inching my way towards being the best I can be. As I said, I haven’t yet decided how I feel about the aging process, but I have decided that there are certain aspects of getting older that I really like.
Here are three things I really like about getting older.
1. I’m Not Afraid of Making Mistakes
I’ve definitely made my share of them in my life and, unlike Edith Piaf, I DO regret some of them. With all due respect to La Môme (“the little sparrow”) and her famous anthem “je ne regrette rien,” we all make mistakes, and I don’t believe anyone can truly have a regret-free past, no matter what they say or sing about.
But, I have certainly lost my fear of making mistakes. Maybe it’s because I know myself better and what I’m capable of. Or, maybe it’s because I’ve lost my fear of failure and looking foolish.
I remember reading recently in a French magazine about the differences between men and women in the workplace (can’t remember the name of the mag or the article – sorry, having a senior moment). The author wrote that if you ask a male employee if he can do something, he automatically says “yes,” whether he can actually do it or not, whereas the female employee will hesitate as she thinks about all the possible ramifications (“What if I say I can and I can’t? What if I make a mistake?”). That was my younger self; my older self says, “Say yes and figure out the details as you go along.” And, guess what!?? It works!
Two years ago, The Board of Directors of the development where I live asked if I would create a Newsletter for the residents. I pretty much had carte blanche to do what I wanted. The young me would have hesitated (“What if I say ‘yes’ and then can’t deliver? What if they don’t like it? What if no one reads it?”), but the older me simply said, “Yes, I’d be delighted. I’ll have some ideas for you by tomorrow.”
I came up with a catchy name, created a great Header, started collecting pictures, interviewed residents and started writing. Basically, I figured out the details as I went along. The quarterly Newsletter has become quite popular among the residents. As a result, I was elected to the Board this spring and the President created an entirely new position for me – Director of Communications. All because I said “Yes.”
2. I Have a Clear Mind
I won’t pretend that I don’t occasionally forget names or where I was going with a story and have to rely on my listeners to get me back on track. My friend Earline calls that taking a little detour because we get where we’re going in the end. And I won’t tell you I’ve never walked into a room and forgotten what I came in for (How many times does that make today? I forget.).
No, what I mean by a clear mind is that I have cleaned out all the cobwebs of unresolved issues, unfulfilled dreams and unrealistic expectations. It’s amazing how much room you have left for what’s really important and essential, and then there’s all that room for the creative you to run around in.
3. I Don’t Have to Shave my Legs as Often
I once asked Mme Mère if there was anything she liked about getting older and without missing a beat she replied, “I don’t have to shave my legs anymore.”
I’m already down to once a week. Woo Hoo!!