“Age is just a number”, or “you’re as old as you feel”. Even I have resorted to these platitudes when trying to reassure friends going through their age-related crises as they certainly serve a purpose in pushing us to stop fretting about life passing us by too fast.
However, on this birthday (yet another one!?) I can reveal to you all that I can’t help feeling my accumulated years. Where is all the youthful energy when there didn’t seem to be enough hours in a day to do all that I wanted to accomplish? Let alone, all the creeping little aches and pains, twinges on my back or stressed out and tired legs in the evening. At this stage, age is more than a number, even psychologically as I have already gone to all lengths to avoid any reference to my exact age for quite a few birthdays.
Luckily, I came into this world in the autumn, a season that I really like. These days I can easily find similarities between my present age and the strong, warm colours all around me. Incidentally, even my favourite colours can be found in the rich autumn palette – delicious reds, oranges, yellows, how breathtakingly beautiful! This is also the harvesting season, abundant with berries, fruit and all the crops that have ripened under the summer sun. Aren’t I, too, now benefiting from all the wisdom learned over the seasons gone by? I have left behind the crowded decades of raising a child, proving my worth at work, always running around for other people. Finally, with the only daughter definitely flown away from the nest, and free from the need to impress anyone at work any more, I can calm down. Just like this season, here in the northern hemisphere, makes us stay indoors more and more, snuggly enjoying candlelit evenings in the comfort of our homes, my present circumstances allow me to turn my thoughts inwards, take stock of who I am, and what I would still like to experience in these autumn years of my life.
But then, autumn winds inevitably carry with them the chilly reminders of what’s soon to come. If I follow in my mother’s footsteps, I’ll only have fewer than 10 years to tick off a long bucket list! Isn’t the disappearing foliage on the trees quite like my thinning hair? Wherever I look, I see lonely last leaves hanging on for dear life… And eventually, the already fallen ones – at first getting caught in the gusts of wind for their farewell swirls in the air, and then rotting away, losing all their vibrant colour, waiting for…
Okey, okey, this is getting far too sinister and morbid now! Let’s change the tone. After all, as long as I am still compos mentis, and unlike the autumn leaves, I can choose the cosier, happier autumn metaphor. Thank goodness, my hairdresser will be able to fix my colour scheme on Friday. And as for my mother, rather than letting her unexpected, early departure worry me sick, I can choose to remember her spirit of never giving up. She was a woman who, even on the very last evening of her life, still carefully painted her nails bright red, as she’d done all her life!
Quick, find last winter’s tea lights, pour a glass of bubbly – chin chin, and chin up.