In 5th grade, I missed the point but remembered the beauty of a science experiment. After assembling some materials and asking for our attention, Mr. Wadsen told us to watch carefully because he’d be asking for our observations. Then, with his cowlick springing free and an air of scientific inquiry, he slowly emptied a large eyedropper filled with red dye into a jar of water.
Leaning forward in my desk, I propped my chin on my fist and watched as tiny tendrils of scarlet worked their way through the water, slowly expanding and stretching in whorls and swoops until the water was completely infused with a lovely red glow.
More recently, a sense of well-being has spread through me much like that softly flowing color I remember watching as a 5th-grader. Contentment, in swirls and downward trickles, has slowly changed me, bestowing an ease that streams through my days, transforming me as gently as dye infuses water, making me more beautiful on the inside. I’m happy.
Aging — though a continuing succession of physical woes — has blessed me with the grace of maturity.
During my life, I endured losses, suffered hurts, made mistakes, and failed those I cared about; but I also learned what is important and what is superficial; what my body and soul need and what harms them; what I am responsible for and what I can leave to others.
I’m calmer now, more genuine and appreciative. I’m able to more quickly see the humor in my own follies and the eccentricities of others.
My major life-decisions have been made, and for the most part, I’ve accepted them and learned to live with their consequences. Sentences I used to resist saying come more easily to me now: I’m sorry. I was wrong. It’s not important. And other statements escape me less often: You always. You should. I didn’t.
I still begrudge my body’s latest betrayals, dread the results of medical tests, and greet my mirrored image with indignant surprise, but the infusion of happiness bestowed by my years buffer those blows, comfort me with the knowledge that, as long as I live, I’ll be able to find a measure of joy in life.
So thank you, Joel, for looking up from editing one of my recent posts and asking why I never write about the positive aspects of aging.
You are right. I’ve failed my readers by not telling them the truths I’ve discovered as I’ve walked through the last ten years with you.