Last week I celebrated a birthday. I am 40 something and quite frankly, am in a better physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual state than at any other point in my life. My father passed away when he was just 56 and wow, does that seems so young now.
Growing up in Africa, both life expectancy and life wellness, seemed to significantly take after the age of 50. Granted, that was a different time and place, but it was not so long ago. In fact, 100 years ago, the life expectancy of human beings was well under 50. So we’re living longer because of a myriad of reasons—better medicine, health care, wellness, and education on being healthy among a few reasons why.
I overhead a man at the gym this morning say “As I get older, I have less trouble with mental challenges but more trouble with physical challenges.” As I get older, I have noticed that I need to stretch out much more before and after a workout, and instead of lifting weight to the max several times a week, I now lift weight fewer times a week and try to maintain a certain strength level, as my body is more vulnerable to injuries. Last week, for example, I had to get my knee drained after doing four triathlons this year… and it took me four days to heal when it might have previously taken me less than a day. My point is that there is only so much we can do with our bodies to keep it healthy in the face of aging.
But, there is a tremendous upside to aging, which is the great emotional maturation that occurs. This upside is truly worth celebrating. Last week while at lunch with friend who had a birthday too, she said to me “I just don’t care what others think of what I wear anymore. I will wear what makes me comfortable and happy and that’s really all that matters.” Should it really take over 40 years to get to this point? What will we say 20 years from now about some of the silly things we do today?
I encourage us to embrace maturation with a fervor for being true to yourself, comfortable with yourself, and joyful with yourself. These sound like an apple pie recommendation, but birthdays are a great time to take inventory of what all that we do, think, and are… and question how much of it is true to ourselves and how much of it is for cosmetics. Maturation is not based on age, but age certainly gives you reason to be mature, and in turn, embrace a more truthful journey.