On the Wearing of Age


(TAIWAN, Reuifang) Cliffs above, water below. (Photo taken by the author.)

(TAIWAN, Reuifang) Cliffs above, water below. (Photo taken by the author.)

There was a moment of panic when I realized that I couldn’t remember the username or the password that I use for this site.

It passed quickly enough, but the universe had made its point:

You’ve been gone far too long. There was a time when you didn’t need memory to access your blog—just the feel of the keyboard underneath fingers was enough to prompt the muscles of your hands to move in the requisite patterns.

But today, I had to pause, and think, and remember.

Which is fitting, because that’s why I write anyway.

To pause, to think, to remember.

In my defense—

(Revealing that I believe I need a defense.)

—even the people whose blogs I read have been silent. The last 3.5 months have been a conspiracy of silence.

I don’t know what their excuse is—

(Revealing that I believe they need an excuse.)

—but my silence began the day I turned 33. I’d like to think of the time since then as a timeout: a break for me to have broken my new age in.

(We wear our ages likes clothes. Or like shoes. And you know what they say: If the shoe fits, it’s ugly.)

I think I can wear 33 now. Which is just as well given that the year’s about to draw to a close. One of my most favorite people in the world wrote me asking (in her typically beautiful prose) to articulate what my 2014 was about. I haven’t quite wrapped my head around it yet (I’m only six minutes into my return to thinking, pausing and remembering), but what comes to mind is that this year was about closing the gap between the life I want to live and the life I’m actually living.

Don’t get me wrong. The circumstances of my life (since I turned 30, at least) are pretty much the same. I’m still overworked and still underpaid. I still don’t get to see people or travel the world as much as I used to. I still fall apart in traffic, still defend my prejudices and still have a propensity to live in the claustrophobic yet comforting confines of my head.

But, but: I am startlingly, unexpectedly happy—and not by merit (which I thought for years was the only possible way) but by, well, seniority. In other words, age broke me in and not the other way around, and while 2014 made me distinctly and uncomfortably aware of my flaws, and failures, and fears and evasions, the addition of another year of life gave me the gift of a wider perspective.

Which is that life really doesn’t get any better. There’s a Buddhist story Pema Chödrön shares of a woman who clings to a vine by the side of a cliff, with tigers below, tigers above, and a mouse gnawing through her one tenuous connection to safety. She looks up, then she looks down, then she looks at the mouse, then she sees a clump of strawberries growing out of the side of the cliff. Then with perfect aplomb, she picks one strawberry—and puts it into her mouth.

That’s my 2014 right there: tigers below, tigers above, and mice perpetually chewing through my vines.

This is my 2014 right now: a strawberry growing out of a cliff, and it’s ripe, it’s luscious, it’s available and it’s sweet.

Happy December, everyone.

It’s good to be back.

P.S. This is for you, J. Just because.

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4 thoughts on “On the Wearing of Age

  1. Elizabet says:

    Thanks for posting today! I saw your blog name as I was scrolling through the blogs I follow—I subscribe to a few and wondered why some people hadn’t been writing and why I hadn’t heard from them recently. And then your post appeared today!

    Welcome back! 🙂

    Like

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