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The Fine Art of Aging Gracefully

The Fine Art of Aging Gracefully

Fifteen years ago when I worked in an office, I had a postcard tacked to the wall of my cubicle. It featured a quote by Major League pitcher Satchel Paige: “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” I was struck by this idea then, and I continue to be today.

Some days, when I wake up with an achy back and knees that pop and crack, I feel ancient. I try to run a mile, and I find myself gasping for the next breath. I visit my dentist or doctor and marvel at how they could be at least a decade younger than me. I find I’m singing along to a favorite song…and it’s playing on the “Oldies” station.

Other days, I feel like I’m still a giddy, goofy teenager. I feel silly, funny and carefree; and I share silly, funny and carefree moments with my husband and two sons. An opportunity comes my way, and I feel the thrill of trying something new. I get lost in a book, in a conversation with a friend, or in a moment of freedom, and time slips away.

One of my best friends turned fifty recently, and as a group of us gathered to celebrate her, I realized this milestone birthday is not so far away for me. For some well-adjusted folks, this may not be a big deal. For me? Right now it seems major, and I wish that wasn’t the case. I want to learn to share Paige’s ageless mindset. Because, like him, I know that our age is truly just a number, a mile marker, but not a statement on the vitality of our life.

I know that our age is truly just a number, a mile marker, but not a statement on the vitality of our life.

There is a bigger story being told—one that goes on and on and on, and I am part of that story. And it isn’t measured in years, decades, or even centuries. Donald Miller expresses this idea beautifully. He writes, “I am early in my story, but I believe I will stretch out into eternity, and in heaven I will reflect upon these early days, these days when it seemed God was down a dirt road, walking toward me.”

There’s relief found in understanding that truth, in accepting it, and even learning to anticipate it. Freedom even. Freedom from counting the days, fretting over the years, and worrying about the future.

So, as for my next milestone birthday? I will seek to face it without dread and without fear. When fifty arrives, I will welcome it with a smile—a timeless smile.

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Susan cherishes the beauty of the Smoky Mountains, the bloom of a Dogwood tree, and the taste of her mother’s pound cake. She betrays her roots by taking her tea “unsweetened.”

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