Every stage of my life except the final one has already occurred. Now I will spend the final few years enjoying every last little bit of it, and I'll even lick the bowl, if God gives me the chance. Even though the end of life can be challenging, it can also be very satisfying, if my peers are any indication. Those people with whom I hike every week are right around my age. A few of them are youngsters in their early to mid-sixties, but most are my age or a few years older, and since we spend so much time together in various weather situations, I get to learn how they deal with the vagaries of growing older. Most of them work hard at staying fit, eating right, and maintaining a healthy weight. These are some of the key ingredients, I think.
When I saw that Robert Redford movie last week, I couldn't help but notice how much he has aged since his pretty-boy days. He's still a good-looking man, at 77, and being able to make that film and perform his own stunts was pretty amazing. He is still slender and obviously fit, and I know from experience that doesn't happen by itself. Even though he can afford it, he obviously has not had any "work" done (plastic surgery) that shows itself in those older celebrities who go that route (think Dolly Parton and Cher, for example). Judi Dench is 78, with a birthday next week; Vanessa Redgrave turns 77 in January, and neither of these magnificent women has chosen to go under the knife.
It makes me wonder if I would, if I could afford it. The thing is, we don't actually get any younger when we do this, and any kind of surgery tends to be physically demanding. I remember my mother standing in front of a mirror and tightening her jaw line, studying the effect. Now, on occasion, I do the same. Sometimes when I'm dressing in the morning and lean over to put on my clothes, the loose skin on my arms catches my eye: when did that happen? It's such a slow process, but one day you notice that your skin looks like your grandmother's did. In the coffee shop the other day, little Leo was sitting next to me and was stroking my arm below the elbow. "Your skin is so soft!" he exclaimed, obviously enjoying the feeling. I smiled and realized there was no way to explain to him why. He is one of my grandchild surrogates, along with those I enjoy in my blogging friends' pictures and stories. Leo knows I will play with him when he arrives at the coffee shop, and his dad enjoys the respite from the constant child care. Dad drinks his espresso and reads the paper while we play. Leo invited me to his birthday party this month when he turns five.
And today? What will I do with my own special day? No birthday party, that's for sure. I'll probably spend the majority of it with my partner, puttering around the apartment. The weather is supposed to deteriorate during the day, giving us lots of rain and wind, making any outdoor activity much less appealing. I might head to the gym for a bit of time on the treadmill. Even though it's not much fun, listening to a podcast on my iPhone makes the time pass quickly, and by the time I'm finished I'm really glad I did it. I've worked my way up to a 13% incline and burn a lot more calories, walking at a brisk pace. I also look out the window, since I can see the activity on the street, and I watch the abundant gulls and crows as they wheel through the sky. Bellingham Bay is visible as well. It's a nice view, even if in my walking I'm not going anywhere at all. Once I break a sweat and my heart rate has increased, I am glad to be there. By the time I've showered and head home, I feel great.
Yes, happy birthday to me! As I mentioned on my other blog, 71 is a prime number. Therefore, I am entering my prime, don't you think? One thing I know for sure: it's good to be alive, even with all the wrinkles, aches and pains that accompany the aging process. I hope that whatever you find to do with your week, it will be a good one, until we meet again, right here next week. Oh, one thing you can do for me, to help me celebrate my birthday: do something nice for yourself that you wouldn't otherwise have done. I will consider it to be my birthday present.