It’s the end of a long day and I have just poured myself a gin and tonic. Because I’ve earned it. But, given where I started out this morning – that pour constitutes a fail. I woke up at 6.30am as planned, I worked my ass off all day, missing my favourite Monday yoga class to work though an endless spreadsheet, and stopped working only a few minutes ago, at 8.00pm. I’ve walked two dogs and fed them and eaten my microwave meal – kindly supplied by sofabrother. I’ve up- and downloaded, ipaged, inumbered, exceIed, whatsupped, called, texted and instagramed.
I’ve reminded and completed and cajoled, and calculated and forwarded and responded and formatted. I’ve structured and thought-through and created. I’ve done a lot. And I’ve still got a post to write.
Given all this – why would a cocktail constitute a fail? Because I had decided not to drink this week (yesterday) but here we are today (Monday) … and I’m on the bottle already.
I decided not to drink cocktails because I need to lose a little weight. I need to lose a little weight because I am going on a trip soon and want to look and feel good. I want to look and feel good because it’s been 10 years since I Ieft NYC and I am carrying those years around my middle and on my thighs. Of course I realise that everyone else is 10 years older too – but I am on the older side of older. And I want to minimise that, and the spread, if I can.
So there you have it: in the preparation for something wonderful – I have somehow managed to make myself feel less than. And that just irritates the hell out of me. I am not 45 – I am 55. I should know better. Dieting, denying and disavowing – let’s face it I am just too old for this shit.
Not my words – Dominique Browning’s. Mostly, the cuss word is mine. Oh, but I hear her. Or rather I read her. She wrote an article for The New York Times recently that I wish I had written. One in which she says: “A younger woman advised me that “old” may be the wrong word, that I should consider I’m too wise for this, or too smart. But old is the word I want. I’ve earned it.”
Earned – what a great word, and the one I see I used about my g’n’t in the first paragraph. Dominique and I have much in common – (see numbers 3, 6, 8, 9 and 10). There are things I can stand to learn from her (especially the bonus in 11). But in general, I feel like she is me, at 60. She clinked my glass. She put me back in my place. She reminded me to get on with it. So, put down whatever you are doing, pour yourself a little something and take a minute to learn from Dominique why being ‘too old for this’ is a good, good thing:
- “Why waste time and energy on insecurity? I have no doubt that when I’m 80 I’ll look at pictures of myself when I was 60 and think how young I was then, how filled with joy and beauty.”
- “Weight gain? Simply move to the looser end of the wardrobe, and stop hanging with Ben and Jerry.”
- “I’m too old for the dark forces, for hopelessness and despair. If everyone just kept their eyes on the ball, and followed through each swing, we’d all be more productive, and not just on the golf course.”
- “The key to life is resilience, and I’m old enough to make such a bald statement. We will always be knocked down. It’s the getting up that counts. By the time you reach upper middle age, you have started over, and over again. And, I might add, resilience is the key to feeling 15 again.”
- “I’m happy to have a body that is healthy, that gets me where I want to go, that maybe sags and complains, but hangs in there. So maybe I’m too old for skin-tight jeans, too old for six-inch stilettos, too old for tattoos and too old for green hair.”
- “By now I’ve learned, the very hard way, that what you see in someone at the beginning is what you get forevermore.”
- “Toxic people? Sour, spoiled people? I’m simply walking away; I have little fight left in me. It’s easier all around to accept that friendships have ebbs and flows, and indeed, there’s something quite beautiful about the organic nature of love.”
- “Take a pass on bad manners, on thoughtlessness, on unreliability, on carelessness and on all the other ways people distinguish themselves as unappealing specimens.”
- “Take a pass on your own unappealing behaviour, too: the pining, yearning, longing and otherwise frittering away of valuable brainwaves.”
- “Now I can spot trouble 10 feet away (believe me, this is a big improvement), and I can say to myself: Too old for this. I spare myself a great deal of suffering, and as we all know, there is plenty of that to be had without looking for more.”
And for my lovely friends, for you who in any way feel concerned about matters of the heart – a bonus commandment:
11: “Sometimes, unaccountably, a new person walks into your life, and you find you are never too old to love again. And again. (See resilience.)”
Because you have earned it.