on eyebrows and gravel rash

We all grow older. It’s science. I understand this.

Sometimes the signs marking the passing of the years, or the ‘gathering of experience’ (to be more charitable) are obvious.

A few more wrinkles in the mirror.

A little less hair on the noggin.

L-platers appear to be younger and younger (surely it’s not just me that thinks this?).

Sometimes the signs are more internal, more about the way we feel, how long it takes to recover from a series of late nights, health challenges that are connected with advancing age and so on.

I’ve been confronted with three signs in recent times, telling me that I’m no longer 23 despite my firm belief that this is still the case.

One comes with my mid-life crisis hobby of mountain biking (it’s been going strong for a good 5 years now).  I’ve noticed that when I fall off, which all average mountain bikers do, it takes longer for the gravel rash to heal.  Remember when you were 12, and were constantly taking skin off your knees, but it would heal in 48 hours? That doesn’t seem to be the case in my late 40’s. 

I’m taking it as a sign of growing older that I just have to deal with, rather than a sign I should stop riding my mountain bike.

The second occurred in a team meeting this week. We were online, as is the way of 2020, and my new work team mostly consists of young (or younger) people. I can’t remember the topic, but somewhere along the way one of the guys said to me “I don’t mean to be rude, but how old are you?”  Nobody asks that question of a 23 year old…so it must be a sign right?

The third sign I was confronted with just this afternoon.  I was minding my own business, sitting in the barber’s chair, having my increasingly sparse hair coverage tidied up, when the barber looked at my face, took out his scissors and comb and asked “would you like your eyebrows trimmed sir?”

What? Why? When did this become a thing?

Why didn’t I get a warning that when hair stopped growing on top of my head that it would sprout in other places?  And who gave the barber permission to assault me with such a personal question?

I guess some signs of advancing years we expect, and others catch us by surprise.

This week a photo of a bunch of friends and I at age 19 was shared on social media by a mutual friend. It’s a lovely photo and I really enjoyed the memories it raised, and the trip down memory lane it brought with it. Good times, good friends, so obviously young and carefree in the photo – you can see it in our eyes.

For all that though, there really was nothing in me that wished to be back there.  I like what life has brought in the last 30 years since that photo was taken.  Grand adventures, a long and healthy marriage (yes, the beautiful bride was in the 30 year old photo too), three amazing kids I have had the privilege to watch grow and mature, and perspectives on the world shaped by time to think, experience and wonder.

That sense of satisfaction, of contentment with where life has lead and is leading….I’m taking that as a sign of aging as well. To be honest, I hadn’t even realised it until I got to this point in writing this story.

That’s sometimes how life goes, I guess. We muddle along, pursuing ideas, reflecting on possibilities, slowly gathering experience, and just occasionally with a flash of insight it all makes sense.

If this is getting older, I don’t mind it.

I’m still not happy about the eyebrows though.