Below is the copy for the first publication of "The Slope". So, If you are as old as dust, but thankfully not as old as dirt, then you are Skipping Down the Slippery Side of the Slope. Join me on the slide down! Enjoy...
Skipping down the slippery side of the slope: Getting old not as bad as I thought
Julieanna Blackwell, Community Contributor
Appeared in the Naples Daily News
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I am old. Not quite as old as dirt, but as my 9-year-old daughter says, I’m as old as dust, which is good considering dust is recent dirt.
Really, I am somewhere in my 40’s. At present, there is this notion that the 40’s are the new 20’s. The only similarities between these two decades of age that I’ve noticed is that during both time-frames, I was never really too sure what my actual age was, the reason being, I never reveal my true age, then or even now. I did so back then because I was young and wanted to appear older, now because I say I am a lot older than I really am. It’s the same trick but a different effect, I look darn good for a 52-year-old.
The odd thing is, when I was in my 20’s, I was the youngest within my crowd. Now somewhere in my 40’s, I’m aware that I am oldest in my group of acquaintances (and I reference my legal age regarding this coincidence).
Now, being the oldest, I find I have advice which I dispense freely. So here is something I discovered; at 40 I found myself standing on the top of the hill. The proverbial hill, the one which we all claw, strain, and step on each other to climb up. What they, the proverbial mavens of the past, neglected to tell us is we all eventually do reach the top of the hill, and it happens at 40, baggage and all.
On the top of the hill, after getting your footing, you look out to find a beautiful view. A vast wondrous sky, blue and clear, the air crisp and clean, and you feel, oh you feel fantastic, you look fantastic with the edges of maturity and experience you gained as you climbed. You can look down behind you and see the path you created as you scratched yourself up from puberty and pre-adulthood. Because at 40, standing on the top of the hill, your hill, you reached it, you are an adult.
Beautiful sentiment, right? Well, I am here to tell you the truth, but with a spoiler alert. If you are still ascending the hill and don’t want know the truth yet, skip the next paragraphs. However, I don’t think you will.
The fact is, after standing on that beautiful mound for the short moments nature will allow, you have to take a step down, and baby it is a slippery slide after 40. You feel great, but not for long.
You can tumble, you can fall, but not because of the terrain, no, because your body starts to change, and this time you can feel it. It is subtle at first, a gray hair here, and a laugh line there. Yet soon you’ll discover on the back end of the hill that you can no longer eat everything in sight, and not just because of the weight gain, but because your stomach can’t handle it. You’ll begin to fear that your shape has started to morph into the same silhouette of your Aunt Ida. Spots appear on your skin, and when you frantically point them out to the dermatologist, she only smiles.
Now having been slipping and sliding down for awhile now, I look back up the hill at my younger friends who've blown out the candles on their 40th birthday cakes and they are tumbling down fast. My husband in fact seems to be catching up, because I can hear his bones crack behind me.
Listen up, for here’s the point of what I’ve learned; when I was scrambling up the jagged side of the hill, all I could see was the hill surrounding me, to the right or left, above and certainly below. But now, when I take my eyes up from the slippery side of the slope, all I see is that vast beautiful vista of life spreading out to the horizon. I can stop to stare for miles, to take in every moment, hold in every scent, and savor every luscious taste. I hang onto it, experience it, and know it, for on this side of the slope it is what it is, I can see for miles and I love it.