On Aging

We lay on our backs in my bed, our shoulders touching while we stared at the ceiling, and I opened my hand - palm up - knowing that she would take it. She held my hand as she sat up and I turned to see what she was going to do. Sometimes, she simply holds my hand but other times, she reads my palm and tells me my fortune. This time, she gently turned my hand over and said, "I want to see your age spot." 

I wish I'd never called it that, even if it's accurate, I don't need to be reminded of it by my 12 year old daughter whose hands are soft and unlined and not so different than they were when she was a baby. Our hands entwined in contrast - young and old, unmarred and age-spotted. I sat up with a dramatic sigh and let her examine my hand and its spot, watching as her fingers traced it.

"I'm old," i said and finally pulled my hand away.
She rolled her eyes and took my hand again, "No, you're not." 
"Maybe not but sometimes I feel old."

That is one of many truths for me at this point in my life and she nodded as if she understood. Then, she began to read my palm, "You will have a very long life..." she said and I smiled and asked, "How do you know?" She looked at me, her lips fighting a smile, "I know things." 

I am more aware of aging than I expected to be in my 40s. I don't sleep as well as I used to and my back hurts if I try to sleep late. My body is changing in ways I don't always like and understand. Last night as my daughter shaved for the first time, I stood by and plucked a hair from my chin, "I swear that wasn't there yesterday," I said and then remembered my mother saying the same thing. Erosion and eruptions change bodies of land and water and we have our human versions of the same. The landscape changes. We age. It is inevitable. That doesn't mean it doesn't catch me by surprise.

Sometimes, I am overwhelmed with the feeling that time is running out and when you add to that the unexpected loss of family, friends, and acquaintances, that feeling becomes an ever present hum that is difficult to ignore. 

The danger in middle age is to think it's too late - too late to do the things you want to do, to say the things you need to say, to change what you want to change, to begin something new. When I think of time running out, I think of it as a teeter totter with Too Late on one side and Live Large on the other and my ass has hit the ground hard on Too Late a lot lately. I mean - I have an age spot! Clearly, these are End Times.

But sometimes, I pay attention to the wrong things. We all do. Our failures. Our mistakes. Our missed opportunities. Our age spots. Life is short. That's not a threat; It's a reminder. 

I think of my daughter and our hands together and remember our conversation:

"I'm old."
"No, you're not." 

She's right, of course. She knows things.