You know, I used to think that ‘getting older’ was a horrible thing. I dreaded the thought of a younger person one day turning to me and saying, “damn, you’re old…” But, now that I’m reaching the peak of middle age, getting older isn’t quite as bad as I thought.
Something happens as you age. Priorities change. Importance you gave to this or that, changes. What gives you pleasure, changes. What totally pisses you off – changes.
I look back at my life in even the last 10 years and there are remarkable changes that have taken place. There was a time in my life when I HAD to be right. I would argue my point with nearly anyone, until then were convinced that I was right. Now, it’s far more important for me to be ‘happy’ than to always be ‘right.’ There was a time in my life that it was important to ‘keep up with the Jones.’ I drove myself into debt doing that and came to realize that the only “Jones” I needed to keep up with was to be true to myself. It is my choice to set the standard for myself and maintain it or exceed it; but never fall short of it. I’ve learned through the years to enjoy the music of others; but I dance to my own beat. Life is not a ballroom dance competition.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve started to understand people a bit more. Take friendships for instance. My friendships are diverse. From corporate types, to homeboys in the hood, my spectrum of friends represents a beautiful canvas and cross section of life. Each friend brings a special something to the table. It could be a particular skill or talent. It could be a particular life experience that we’ve shared. It could be an opposing point of view that challenges my thought process. It could be any number of things – all of equal value. All of equal enjoyment. All of equal importance. That’s what I love most about my friends. They are all important to me and I love each and every one of them in a very special way.
Something I’ve learned over the years, is to not have ‘tunnel vision’ when it comes to friendships. I don’t limit myself to only ‘like kind’ people. I don’t limit myself to particular income levels or ‘status’ in the community. How dull would that be? I thrive on the diverse backgrounds, interest, skills, talents, SOULS of my friends.
Friendships are important and have been an important part of the growing up process. I guess that’s why it saddens me when it feels like one of those important people is pulling away without explanation. It makes me replay the tapes in my head, wondering what I could have possibly done wrong. (we, as humans often times turn on ourselves first) Then, it dawns on me… without some explanation I can’t ‘own’ a piece of something that someone else is feeling or thinking. I can’t correct a mistake I’ve made (if I’ve made one) without understanding what may or may not have happened. Silence can be the most misunderstood form of communication.
Life is all about experiences. Your ‘person’ is the sum of your experiences. Interestingly enough, it’s an equation that is never ending because experiences (hopefully) never end. As we age, as we experience, we become more of ourselves and less of what others ‘want’ us to be.
Becoming ourselves and less of what others want us to be is the cool part of growing older.