Fuuuuu--(thinks better of it)--dge.
So I turned 40 this weekend, and overall, it's not too bad. Reaching the day itself was sort of like pulling off a band-aid--I'd had all this angst about it and once it hit, it felt no different than being 39...or 38, for that matter. I may have been somewhat numbed by the aftereffects of staying up very late the night before with some of my favorite people in a typically deep and interesting conversation which wrapped up a fun birthday party, but overall I think I've pretty much found my Zen -- or at least the path there.
One thing that helped ease my mind a bit was, of all things, a silly parody of "Single Ladies" a friend of mine posted on Facebook. It was as you'd expect, but had a couple of lines that hit me pretty hard. Specifically, one that talked about these lines on her face meaning she's lived her years, and also "You can't change it so you'd better make your peace with it."
And damn, that's harder than you'd think. In my darker moments, I want my 25-year-old body and face --but I wouldn;t want to actually be 25 again. I'll keep my 40-year-old maturity, perspective and experience, and with knowledge that the stuff that kept me up at night then would mostly all turn out just fine (and be replaced with a whole new set of worries).
I'm not thrilled with the physical aspects of getting older, I'll admit. This surprises me, because I've never really had the looks to run with the pretty girls (despite having some really good-looking friends), so being out of that race completely bothers me more than I like to admit. I acknowledge it's all patriarchal society bullshit, but still. I've always been more of a brains over beauty kind of a person, and my brain still works (more or less, and that which doesn't has more to do with being a parent than being 40). I'd just like it to function well in a body less worked over by 40 years on this planet, the last six of which included gestating, birthing and nursing two babies.
I've been exercising at the Y pretty frequently for the last year or so, which has helped me reconcile with my 40-year-old body in more ways than one. Not only am I stronger, tougher and more flexible than I was five years ago, but I have had a glimpse into the future. See, I shower there most days, and am frequently hitting the locker room as the older women who swim or do water aerobics are getting ready or drying off after class. And you know what? They show no shame, no angst, no self-consciousness at all about their bodies. There are wrinkles, there are sags and bulges and cellulite, there are scars -- and yet there they are, in all their glory, casually gossiping with their friends while wearing only a towel and sometimes less. They just don't care.
I don't know if it's because they're active and thus feel good about themselves, or if it's being so far outside of what society considers attractive that they aren't bothered by it anymore, or that they just have enough perspective on life to not give a rat's ass what anyone else thinks (although I'd vote for the latter). They may not be what the world considers beautiful, but they are magnificent. And I hope it doesn't take me until my next big birthday to be just like them.