Aging is a beautiful, yes, beautiful, process. It is a shift in the body, mind and emotions that cannot be known by someone until they are experiencing it themselves. Someone once told me that I would never be able to know 40-year-old knee pains until I was a 40-year-old with knee pains. Any other age presents the same type of learning. Though each person’s experience is their own, there are realizations that can only be experienced by a person individually at their own time. No one could have told me what my menopause symptoms would have been like, for example. The signs of menopause, the night sweats, the hot flashes, the perimenopause symptoms: all of these were for me to discover in my own body as I moved through them. That process of discovery is not terrifying but, for me, liberating.
What delights me about aging is that it invites us to consider where we are and how we can continue to live our healthiest, best life. Suddenly, some of the things that mattered to me before—pleasing others, saying yes when I didn’t want to, keeping up with social obligations—slip to the wayside. There isn’t as much time to do things I don’t want, and I feel like I’m finally learning how to identify what I want. If I can claim aging as a sign of power, if I claim it as owning and celebrating my body in a new and different way, the stigma begins to disappear, and an emergence of strength tumbles forth. That strength may not always manifest in my knees or my back, and it may take me more time to get around than I used to, and yet, there is so much to celebrate as humans age. Perhaps in the moving more slowly, I am better able to see what’s happening around me. Aging encourages me to be present, both to my body and to what happens outside of me. That balance is the beauty of this process, a gift to see everything, including myself, with a different lens.