A Writer’s Life: Meditations On Aging 9

I think I’ve figured out why old people talk so much about their aches and pains and bodily functions. It’s because, no matter how long they’ve been dealing with those aches and pains, they’re surprised by the effects aging has on their bodies. I’ve come to this conclusion because I, too, am surprised by it and find myself enthusiastically joining in on such conversations. Followed by a good laugh at myself.

Why am I thinking about aging? Last Saturday was my birthday…a big one, ending in a zero. Something-zero birthdays always feel momentous, though looking back they rarely are. They represent an entire decade of life, one more wedge of pie served up and eaten, leaving less for the future. Sometimes I worry about not having enough pie left to accomplish and contribute all I want.

People like to say, “You’re only as old as you feel.” If that’s true, I am eight and fifteen and thirty-one and fifty; I am young and old, ageless and weather-beaten, all wound up like a ribbon of many colors. Sometimes I feel old because my body is stiff and aches, and other times it forgets itself for a moment and lets me dance as though time were never an issue. But I’m always surprised when I look in the mirror. That woman with the sagging, wrinkled skin and graying hair cannot possibly be me! I’m surprised to feel limited by my body at all. And yet, it’s true — the body does wear down little by little, and no cliché can change that fact.

This quote of Doris Lessing’s probably says it better: “The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eight years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.” True, whether you’re forty or fifty or sixty.

Of course, as Maurice Chevalier famously said, “Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.”

[Tweet “What does aging mean for a writer?”]

So what does aging mean for a writer? It means you feel a sense of urgency to get it all down on paper. It means you look forward to having more time to write while worrying that it will take you longer to do so. It means hoping that writing will keep your mind sharp and fearing that you mind will not stay sharp enough to do the writing. It means being grateful for every day you are able to work. It means you laugh at yourself much more often. And finally, it means you have another topic to write about — aging! What fun.

Writing Prompts:

  • How are you experiencing the aging process and what does aging mean for you?
  • What hopes and joys does the idea of getting older bring to you?
  • What fears?
  • Complete the following sentences:

I know I’m not old yet because …
I know I’m older because …

Don’t be shy! Share your thoughts on this topic.


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9 thoughts on “A Writer’s Life: Meditations On Aging

  • Sharon Lippincott

    Congratulations on passing that milestone birthday. May the coming decade be luminous and full of brilliant written work.

    I so totally do NOT agree that “… you don’t change at all.” God help us all if that’s true! Why would we be investing so much time journaling for insight, understanding and healing if that were true? What about sagehood? Uhm, I feel a blog coming on.

    As for aging as a writer, with each passing decade I grow braver, bolder, and more audacious in what I’m willing to share with the world, and more adept at the craft. I take more joy in writing, whether for self, friends or the world. While I love publishing stories and books for the world to enjoy, I write for the joy, not the fame. I’m of the “write it and those who need to read it will find it” school. Writing will remain my lifeline to the world as long as my fingers work.

    • Amber Lea Starfire

      Thank you for the birthday wishes, Sharon. And oh, I agree — we do change in that we become more of who we really are. We grow into our potentials, become wiser and, as you say, bolder and braver. (At least I know I have.) We become much more skilled at doing what we love.

      AND I also think that the essence of who we are doesn’t change. I still feel very much that little girl I was so long ago, in so many ways. I’m just more free to be me.

  • Barbara Toboni

    I know I am getting older because I have to be gentler with my body. That is something I am learning to do. One thing I like to do that makes me feel younger is smile at myself in the mirror every morning. It’s like a mini facelift. I also like this quote I read by Sin Vye St. Tan. “Don’t frown because you never know who is falling in love with your smile.” It reminds me to smile more often, and I pinned it on my bulletin board. Happy Birthday!

  • patsy ann taylor

    If we are lucky, we will all age and age and age. So far I’ve been lucky. I do have the pressure to write my fingers to the nub. And I only look in the mirror seriously twice a day: in the morning to put my makeup on and comb my hair, and in the evening to take it all off. The rest of the day, if I look at anything other than the task at hand, it is the clock, which never stops ticking.

  • Leo Kane

    My appendix made it to age four, my tonsils to age eight, my womb to thirty-five. Half of my teeth are twenty years younger than my bones but my knees are only 23 days old. My mind is stuck at thirty and my heart feels seventeen. How old am I? I’m not sure it’s possible to be know, or sure that it matters. Every day above ground is a good day. Every sun set brings me closer to one truth, the only thing that will matter in the end is who you loved and who loved you in return.

  • Dedhedpoet

    Elder Author

    His glittering brain
    So full of the gems of age
    Hands withered from repetition
    As eyes tarnish in bleary rooms
    He writes ever silent of a bygone youth
    ©Andrea Travis 2016