I have always had friends who were older than me. When I was in high school and college and beyond, I had several close friends who were many years older than I was. They were parents of friends of mine, co-workers, older siblings of people I knew or teachers and though I was conscious of the age differences I was also aware of the similarities between us. Their worlds included aspects of life that I had not yet gotten to in my own – but we related to one another all the same.
I think on some level it made me feel cool that we would hang-out together. And I thought of them as relatively cooler versions of their contemporaries. After all, my parents were just old and relatively out-of-touch in my eyes so these people had to be different. What I didn’t realize quite yet was that as you get older you are the collection of all your experiences. Though my life in many ways is entirely different from what it was when I was in my teens, or twenties or thirties – I am still that same person and more.
Except for the days when my back hurts or when I have to reach for my glasses to read a menu in a restaurant, I still feel “young”. I am sure my teenage sons would beg to differ, though how we relate to each other is vastly different from how I related to my parents. They value their youth – as most do in this society so focused on being, looking and even acting young. Entire industries flourish as they sell “youth” to our culture. And though I would surely trade in some of the physical aspects of growing older, I worked hard for every laugh line and grey hair and I’m keeping them.
But the biggest difference is the perspective. I wouldn’t trade that in for anything. I love my forties, and know that assuming my health stays with me – I can look forward to my fifties, sixties and beyond. Life lessons learned, relationships forged, experiences had all embellish the soul. And as I stretch now toward both older and younger friends I appreciate my place in the continuum and value theirs. Moving forward, with grace and an open-mind, excited to see what comes next and cherishing what came before – it’s a good ride.