The Liberation of Age

With the passage of years our bodies and our minds change. No denying that. And for some, the process can be unfairly swift and unkindly destructive to their sense of identity and quality of life. So far, that has not been my experience but I know that it can happen and perhaps it will.

And I’ve heard folks a few years older than me lament the “tyranny of age” as those passing years increasingly dictate — far more then their personal desires or inclinations — what they can and cannot do.

But a few minutes ago, I found myself standing over the kitchen sink, a gooey confectioner’s sugar glaze, flavored by vanilla and the juice from a meyer’s lemon, running over my fingers as I finished a piece of hot toast, lightly buttered, and smeared thickly with the glaze. The glaze was left over from my icing of the vegan Meyers-Lemon Blueberry Scones I made this rainy Saturday morning. And yes…I had already eaten a scone as well.

But I couldn’t let the glaze go to waste. Scraping it from the sides of the mixing bowl I was taken back to my childhood, remembering, as I’m sure so many do, the warmth of the kitchen and the sense of love and sheer delight that came as mom would hand you the beaters or the scraper to lick as she worked on the chocolate cake and chocolate frosting being prepared for someone’s birthday or just because it was a good day for a cake.

And I stood there today licking the glaze from my fingers, as eager for the sugar high as my almost three-year-old grandson might be, I could have recited, had I chosen, all the reasons why sugar in massive doses before sitting down to write my next cruise ship lecture might not be a good idea. I could think about blood sugar levels and all sorts of health injunctions.

But I could have as readily thought about all the reasons why 65 year olds don’t get tattoos. I could have thought about the many reasons not to be traveling the world with a fractured disk in my back, or the reasons to not waste my time writing words that really are just for me (and Leija, perhaps, my faithful reader).

But none of those reasons really matter. It is true that age can be a tyrant. But it can also be a liberator. There comes a point where there’s no one we need to answer to but ourselves. Where our choices reflect who we are and what gives us joy rather than what we are expected or obligated to do. And there are times when we get to do things, like getting tattoos, simply because we can.

To me that’s the liberation of age and, so long as it gets equal time along with the tyrannical side, I’ll be content. And who knows, there might be just a touch more of that glaze in the bowl.

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