New Castle News

Lisa Madras

June 24, 2013

Lisa Madras: As our ‘sun’ sets, we glow even brighter

NEW CASTLE — What’s the best part of growing older?

I've spent a great deal of time lately complaining about turning 40 — in this blog and in my daily life. I'm supposing that my friends are getting to the point where they'd like to crack me upside the head and tell me to "shut up already!"

Yeah, it's been tough. And I've taken it harder than I ever thought I would, especially since I'm the type of person who always felt like a little kid playing dress-up in the grown-up world. But then the health started failing, and the kids started getting older, and I hit that milestone birthday. And then I started admiring the mu-mus of the little old lady down the street who goes to get her mail at 4:15 every day as I'm coming home from work.

("Ahhh," I'd sigh to myself. "How great it's gonna be when I can pull off THAT look.")  

That's when I knew I was done for.

But I'd be a really poor sport about this little thing we call life if I didn't give some accolades to the benefits of growing older.

Besides the obvious advantages of actually knowing all the words to the oldies Musak playing in the doctor's office waiting room and dating someone half your age without breaking any laws, you just have to give a big cheer (if you can get out of your recliner on the first try) to the mental freedom that comes with age.

I almost didn't see it coming at first, as another advantage of aging is that my brain cells are finally down to a manageable size, but then suddenly there it was ... and in my head, I call it the "Settling Phenomenon." (I still name things like this because I'm certain I'm going to be a world-renowned scientist when I grow up.) I don't mean that I gave up, or anything like that. Don't get me wrong. I'll try to explain.

If you're under the age of 40, and particularly if you're a woman, you know exactly what it feels like to be the sun — always shining for everyone, keeping the planets tucked safely in your magnetosphere, whirling the galaxy around in your ever-present, life-sustaining warmth.

And that's a great and noble calling, but even the sun's life is finite. (She's got about another 5 billion years, but we're looking at a little more or less than another 40 ourselves.) And so the day comes when you say to yourself, "This has been great, being a star, and existing for the care and comfort of others, but I'm kinda ready for someone else to take over now."

That's when you know you're moving into the moon phase of your life. You want a little more peace and a little more quiet. You want to come around a little more softly, and start to reflect the light instead of generating it. You created a world that revolved around you, and now you'd like to float around along the edges and enjoy what you've made.

You watch your children begin to sustain their own lives instead of depending on you to run it for them. You allow everyone to know your strength is still here, and they can have it if they come and ask for it. You dazzle with your brilliance, but this time, instead of being hot and fiery and forceful, it's silvery and cool and mysterious, and somehow even more breathtaking than before.

Yes, there's something wonderful, too, about age. After so many years of being and doing and going, it's very much like a twilight calm to just ... be.

It's like finally, gratefully, settling into yourself.


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