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I don't know if it's entering my forties or motherhood—the two came around the same time for me, so it's hard to
distinguish—but I'm a lot more aware of my mortality than I used to be.
Photograph from: Tracy Brown Hamilton
I expected age to bother me in a
vanity sense. I thought I'd feel bad about my neck, my knees, my eye lines. I
don't love that aspect, but I don't really obsess over it as much as I thought I
I feel fit. I bike most places. I do
a trampoline workout twice (most) weeks, and tonight I'm going to an
introduction lesson at an indoor climbing facility with two friends. I've made
a more conscious choice to exercise with friends instead of (just) drink wine
and go for dinner.
But my fitness comes with a qualifier
these days: I'm alright for a 43-year-old mother of three. Then again, that's
not the point.
I feel differently about the idea of aging. Now when I see an elderly woman who
can't quite hear or use her legs or chew food effectively, I don't think, as I would have once, "Oh please don't let that happen to me." I think: "Good on you. You're still in
it. You're still here."
Time has become my most important resource, whether it's another 15 minutes in bed or a chance for an hour-long walk with a friend.
Children have broadened my desired
reach for how long I want to be around. I want to see as much of their lives as
I can. I want to know who, or if, they marry, how they find joy in their lives,
what professions they seek and what kind of people they are. I want to see for myself what they excel
in, what they struggle with, how they deal with who they are.
And—again, I don't know if
it's forties or motherhood—I feel like I'm getting better each year, because I'm
far more sure of myself and willing to take risks that are meaningful rather
than just rebellious or bratty.
Before my first child was born, for example, I was a writer and editor, but I had never written a word from my own point of view, in my own voice. I
don't pretend the world of letters has been much changed for this. But I
have. I find enormous value in taking time to consider what I really think and in trying to understand the thinking
of others. Trying to find the humor if not the logic in things.
My friendships are better as I get older. And I'm calmer. A night in with a good book is a treat rather than a sign that I don't have enough going on in my life. I'm enjoying simpler things while feeling closer to accomplishing bigger ones, or at least being able to imagine doing more than I would have when I was 25 and less secure.
I want to do more. And more. Of
Time has become my most important resource, whether it's another 15
minutes in bed or a chance for an hour-long walk with a friend. Or 40 more
years with my mind and family, to be aware of things and to participate in
Here is where I inevitably mention
that my mother died when she was 48. She had a good life, full of friends and
family and travel and adventure. And she was funny. She enjoyed herself and
had just started taking college classes. She wasn't done doing half of what she
was going to do.
Photograph from: Tracy Brown Hamilton
That frustrates me but mostly reminds me not to take time for
granted or wish it away. Without being morbid or becoming a hypochondriac or
obsessing over death, I'm just finding myself more aware of time and how much
more of it I want.
I don't worry about dying, I'm just more aware that I don't want to. Life's too good.