“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man”. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), one of America’s founding fathers, statesman, diplomat, scientist and inventor
I turned 41 in 2010. Even so, it is still a surprise to me every time I look in the mirror and I see the face of a 41 year old. Do you ever feel that way, wondering what happened? Where did that twenty-something face go to and when did it leave? Sometimes it is disappointing that I only have to look at myself to remember that time does not stand still. All those extra wrinkles and “softness around the edges” reveal the truthful reality that I have indeed crossed over into adulthood. I am no longer a “Miss” – I am now a “Ma’am”.
So many of us see the passage of time as something to regret that we spend a small fortune to hold onto what we used to be. Unfortunately, if we keep looking behind us, we often miss what is right in front of us. Every stage of life has its benefits, and if we refuse to embrace what the present offers, all we will have left are the fleeting shadows of the past. We need to learn how to look forward to what time can offer us, so instead of having a legacy of regret, we can have a legacy of life. Will you release your past and look forward to the future? It may be the freest thing you can ever do.
What do I look forward to as I age? I look forward to being able to see the goodness of life more clearly, even though I know that bifocals are just around the corner. I look forward to being more grace-filled, even while I become less graceful. I look forward to being strong enough to define my own sense of lovely, instead relying on the world’s fickle definition of beauty. I look forward to the quiet confidence of age, instead of the insecure arrogance of youth. I look forward to being able to forgive much, and hurt less, because I know that I am loved more.
Youth can only offer us its strength and outward beauty; trying to hold onto both is like trying to hold onto the wind. Strength will always weaken and outward beauty will always fade. Someday we will all have to trade in our youth for wisdom. It is up to us to make sure that it is a worthy exchange.
May your 2011 be blessed and happy!
“People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope as old as your despair. In the central place of every heart there is a recording chamber. So long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer and courage, so long are you young. When your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then, and then only, are you grown old. And then, indeed as the ballad says, you just fade away.” General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), commander of American troops in the Southwest Pacific theater during World War II