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.

growing older

IMG_0019So the evidence is mounting….I’m getting older.

Recently I was in the market for a car, and thought long and hard about what kind of car I could fit into my budget, what the family needs where, and what I “really” wanted. For a while at the top of my list was a Subaru WRX.  It’s been a car I’ve hankered after for years really, and though I couldn’t afford anything too recent, I could just about have worked my way into a ten year old model. As a firmly committed motoring enthusiast (to use a polite phrase!) the temptation was real. I could imagine myself dropping the kids to school, then heading for the mountains to unleash.  Serious fun lay ahead.

The choice in the end? A three year old Hyundai i30 hatch. Practical, nice, good condition, reliable, comfortable. Hyundai have come a long way and the i30 is a genuinely good small car……and I’m just about over the shame of driving a car I swore I’d never drive….but what happened to my WRX?

The thing is, much as I still love speed, and the idea of a truly capable car appeals, I’ve also started to figure out that just maybe there is more to life than going flat out everywhere.

Now in my early 40’s I find myself cruising in traffic, and laughing as a 19 year old races past, weaving in and out and gaining a few metres here and there. And as I laugh I think…sure, you’ll beat me to the destination by a few minutes, but does it really matter?

I’m definitely getting old……or maybe it’s five years in Tasmania that has relaxed me.

There are other signs too, reflexes that aren’t what they once were, a few wrinkles and a lot less hair (and disturbingly hair starting to grow in strange places…what’s with hairy ears?). Of course there are also some positives , I’ve started coping a little better with early morning starts after years of being sure and certain there was no such thing as 6.00 AM, and maybe (just maybe) there’s a little wisdom that comes from mounting levels of life experience – from all that has gone before, both good and bad.

Older, I tell you. Continue reading