I just read an article titled “Five Healthy Habits that Fight the Signs of Aging.” It was written by a woman who recently turned 40. As my southern friends would say, “Bless her heart.”
Basically, the author advises eating healthy and wearing sunscreen. Go ahead, sweetie, keep believing. If you only knew. It’s better that you don’t. Actually, it’s better that none of us do. Some days, the mystery of the unknown is what keeps us going.
As someone who has seen 40, may I tell you about 40? Forty is nothing. Forty is the sandbox of life. Forty is merely the back end of 30. At 40, your skin still fits. The thought of “comfortable shoes” at 40 is anathema. On a good day, you may even still have that dewy glow of youth. You can still eat ice cream, pizza and doughnuts in your 40s.
I will grant you that the back end of 40 comes with a cloud of apprehension — as it should as 50 is a bucket of cold water in the face. Medical appointments appear with increasing frequency on your calendar. Colonoscopies, bone scans, cholesterol checks. Merely holding a cookbook causes weight gain.
You envision a brow lift during your 50s. Of course, you can’t afford it, so you consider the alternatives. Perhaps a few pieces of strategically placed duct tape. You may even be sucked into exercises promising to eliminate that furrowed brow and put yourself through regimens of weird facial gyrations. You lament all the years you frowned. Why did you frown? Because you were raising children, that’s why!
Sixty? I recently crossed 60, so I speak with authority when I tell you that 50 is a cakewalk compared to 60. Sixty is like being tasered. Once you get feeling back in your legs, pull yourself upright and look around, you wonder how you got here. You feel 17 inside, but the candles on the birthday cake are setting off the fire alarm.
You have new sympathies and understanding for those older than yourself. Instead of muting the prescription drug commercials on television, you listen intently to all the adverse side effects, wondering if you may one day need the medication — or more importantly, if the medication will one day will kill you.
If you’re blessed with good health, you quickly learn to keep it to yourself. Friends your own age don’t want to hear about how great you feel or that you signed up for a mini-marathon.
A group I am speaking to recently requested a publicity picture. I realized the picture I use is four years old. A lot of changes can happen in four years. I sent the picture and told my contact to pencil in a few more wrinkles. I need to get an updated photograph of myself. And I will. Just as soon as the healthy eating, sunscreen kick and results from the furrowed brow exercises kick in.
Lori Borgman is an Indianapolis columnist. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.