I grip my kayak paddle and I see my hands, wrinkled and aged, thin skin and noticeable veins. My breath catches.
As I gloomily move across the water, a baseball cap and sunscreen protect my face, yet I know they won’t erase the brown age spots already marking my face. I can only hope to prevent others. I worry it’s too late.
I recently noticed my first gray hairs. I thought… well, I actually thought I would never get gray hair. My grandma vowed she never colored her hair and she had brown hair until the end. I was supposed to take after her. I guess that’s not in my control.
I can’t help but notice my age lately. Getting older is not something I welcome with open arms.
As personal trainer and creator of P90X Tony Horton states in his P90X3 program, “aging is for idiots.” He attests we can slow down the aging process through exercise. God and all of my closest friends know I sure tried!
A regular gym goer for years, I upped the ante when my first daughter graduated from high school: adding a 5:30 a.m. session before work and continuing my evening visits, totaling 8-10 workouts a week for five years, attempting to hang onto my youth and maximum physical fitness.
Until my body, overtaxed and tired, began to show signs of stress, until my healthcare provider told me my routine was doing more harm than good. “Slow down,” he said. “Rest. Walk, don’t run. Choose yoga over high-intensity interval training. Listen to your body.”
Admittedly, I didn’t get it. I didn’t listen. And my body continued to ask me to stop in its own way, causing me grief and discomfort.
Why do I fear slowing down? Simply put: because I’m afraid of getting old.
If I can keep pace with the 30-somethings, maybe they won’t realize I’m a late 40-something. That is, until they see my aged hands and neck wrinkles, until more gray hairs and age spots creep in. Who am I kidding?!
There’s a lot on my mind during this kayak trip. This quiet time on the water gives me time to think.
When did I get so old? I see the fatigue in my eyes every time I look in the mirror. It’s not dark circles or puffiness I see, it’s age, and no amount of makeup or magical moisturizers can fix it.
I wipe away a tear. Life is passing by too quickly.
I paddle onward. I need a new perspective.
Perhaps aging is not so bad. I likely have a few more decades ahead of me. There’s so much to do and see. People must accept me for who I am. I must accept myself for who I am, this season of life.
I am kayaking. I can paddle for hours. I am stronger and more athletic than most women my age.
I am kayaking. The scenery is beautiful and serene. The birds sing. The wind blows. Life goes on around me.
I am kayaking. I am grateful for these hands that hold my paddle, my eyes that take in the beauty around me, my body which is capable of going where I want it to go.
The moment passes. The hour passes. The day passes.
Life passes. I cannot defy the odds. I am no different than you. I cannot stop time. I cannot turn back the clock.
Someday when I am 50 and 60 and then 70, I will look back at my photos and realize I was not that old back in my 40s. I will wish then to look as I do today.
I will never get back this day. And while I cannot erase the effects of age, do I want to take back those years? No, that would be wrong.
I don’t want to take back my years of raising my daughters. I don’t want to take back our trips and travels. I don’t want to erase my many happy memories. I don’t want to forget the people I’ve met along the way.
I don’t want to lose this day on the water… a day where I am sad and feeling my age, but alive and well. I paddle harder and harder, faster and faster, until I glide silently across the lake, full speed ahead.
And I smile.