Today I am 46. And I’m thrilled to be where I am. Yes, I have moments of looking at younger yoga teachers and students and thinking “damn, they look good!” But I honestly would not trade being in my mid-40s for anything.
To state the obvious, our culture worships the young. Just look at the multi-billion dollar industry of anti-aging products on the market. Truth be told, I’ve got a shelf full of ‘em myself. I’m all for aging gracefully and taking care of yourself physically no matter what your age. But I also know that with age comes a truer sense of self and a perspective that simply isn’t available to us until we’ve got a few decades under our belt.
There is an idea in the Torah that one cannot even begin to study kabbalah, an ancient and esoteric philosophy and path of spirituality, until one is at least forty years old. Consider this a nod to the truism that with age comes wisdom.
Twenty years ago my skin was taut and I didn’t worry about “knee wrinkles” (don’t know what they are yet? Congrats, but just wait a decade or so!). I was living in San Francisco, having recently graduated from law school and working at a big firm, living with my soon to be fiancé, who quickly became my husband and then, in pretty short order, my ex-husband. From the outside things looked pretty darn good. But on the inside, it was a whole different story.
I did not have a very stable sense of self. I was struggling with an eating disorder and with a nagging sense that I was not enough. I did not know what self-care was and lacked the tools to really make my well-being a priority. Things got worse, much worse, before they got better.
Today, I am beyond grateful for the many gifts in my life and for the challenges and years that led me to this place. I have an amazing family and wonderful friends. I am part of a very special yoga community. And I have my yoga and meditation practices that help keep me centered and strong. I would not trade any of this for smooth knees or any other trapping of youth.
For those of you under 40, what do you hope to gain by the time you get there? And for my friends in your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond, what do you appreciate knowing now that you did not know back in the day?