Age—does it really matter?

I found a grey hair!!! Most of you probably read that as an exclamation full of dread… but, I actually proclaimed it happily! My mother says it’s a blonde hair, but I’m kinda hoping it’s a grey one… why? So many reasons. I’m a character actress who is waiting to come into my age so I can actually play the roles I’m right for (and want to play… I am itching to play Mrs. Lovett, and Marmee, and King Lear).

Age matters to me, because growing older has mostly been good to me. (If you’re not a regular to our blog, it was my, and the blog’s, Birthday last week.) I’m older and wiser than I have ever been, but with age and wisdom comes knowledge that I have still farther to go. Its like climbing a mountain—when you start you just want to get to the top, but the farther up you get, you start to understand the world around you better and get these AMAZING views of the world.   I know as I age, I only have gotten better. You couldn’t pay me enough to go back to any part of my life. I’m quite happy where I am and excited to look forward.

Recently I stopped into a jewelry store, and the woman who owns it and I were chatting about age. We first started talking about how my birthday was coming up and I was looking for a present for myself—I buy myself a piece of jewelry every year on my birthday—a tradition since I don’t have a significant other to do it for me. (For more on birthdays, check out our birthday blog! INSERT LINK). I stumbled on this bat necklace, and I loved it… and the price was $36—perfect because that is the age I was about to turn. She, like many, was shocked to hear that I am “that old” because I don’t look it. (Sigh. I don’t want wrinkles, but I would like to look older than my mid/late 20s… those roles are calling me!! But like we tell every child that just can’t wait to be “bigger”… that time will come.) Back to me purchasing a necklace. The proprietor was stunned I was young. She told me to enjoy it because she was, gasp, turning 50 this year. I was truly stunned that she was that old… because she didn’t look it either. She continued telling me not to be worried about being in my 40s because those were even better than 30s… (which must mean my 40s are going to be amazingly awesome).

We continued to chat, she telling me that turning the corner into 50s seemed like doom, as none of the fashion magazines talk about anything above that. I told her it was because women over a certain age don’t need fashion magazines to tell them how to behave, do their makeup, or live. I also told her that any milestone seems like a horror once you are on the cusp of it, but they’re always a breath of fresh air and wisdom on the other side. In other words, you’re at a new point on the mountain, and get to see a new view!

Its always interesting to me that people are concerned with age. I thought it was just women for the longest time, but I know many men who are also so concerned with it. Is it because ages are mile markers on where to be? Listen, we all climb the mountain. We’ll all get to the top when we get there. Why does it matter if we measure our journey versus those who are climbing with us or with those who have gone before us? It doesn’t. Think of any hike, or journey, or even mountain climb you’ve ever taken… you can kind of describe it to someone, but the things you saw and experienced along the way were different than others on that trail. Even if you walked the same path, at the same speed as another person, you would have a completely different experience. If you open up your eyes and have no expectations, you’ll have enjoyed the journey much more; you see more, experience more, gain more. If you go with a description on how to take the path, and try to see everything that someone else did, or even just look at the things they point out to you, the enjoyment and take away experience won’t be as great. Only you can live through your trials and tribulations. Only you can make your own mistakes. Only you can see what your eyes see.

Growing older is not a curse. Its not a burden. It shouldn’t be a frustration. Maybe you’re not on the same path. Maybe you’re not going as fast and getting as far as you should. I am where I am at 36. I wish I was older so I could have those experiences now… but I also wouldn’t trade it for the things I’m going through now.

At the time of writing this, I was doing Taming of the Shrew. I was playing Gremio (the “old man” suitor). This was a challenging role to play, because I was acting the role as a man. I was also acting the role as “old.” Every role I take on lately, I’m trying to be true to the role and the text, and not make it gimmicky—I’ve done that. I know how to do that. I want to walk on stage and have the audience think that I believe that I’m the person I say I am, and not have to pander or telegraph what I am. This was a fine line to walk, but it was an interesting path. Old people know that they’re old, but they’re also still living. Not all “old” looks the same. You will always feel old, because in this moment, you’re older than you’ve ever been. If you’re interested in more about my acting process, feel free to email or post a comment below and I’ll discuss more in depth… but, the point in talking about my character is: “old” is a perception, a viewpoint, an opinion. I was just as convincing being “old” without a crackly voice and hunched back, and my character was more believable. I was true to myself and my character from the view I have from my mountain looking out. I didn’t look up or down or compare myself and character to “old” people. I just was who I am, being truthful now.

During the rehearsal process of the play, we went out after rehearsals together as a cast. One of the gals in the play was adamant about not revealing her age. We’ve spent several evenings after rehearsal and performances trying to finagle how old she actually is. She will not give it up. (I tip my hat to her.) If she doesn’t want anyone to have preconceptions of her because of a number of years she’s lived, cheers to her. I, on the other hand, don’t give a rats ass about how old people think I am, versus how old I really am. For me its entertainment. In fact, I often forget how old I am, especially if I’m not in a milestone year, because it just doesn’t matter to me. My friend who wont reveal her age is at her point on the mountain, which happens to be the same as mine, just because we both have landed here in this moment. She might be climbing faster than me (aka she might be younger than me) or at the same rate, or slower. WHO CARES. My climb is mine and mine alone. Her’s is her climb. Her journey. Yours is your own.

Forget candles, forget calendars, forget numbers. As I said in Love Your Skin Now: your wrinkles are your memories, experiences, and past—it doesn’t matter how you got them, they are yours. Embrace them. You are a beautiful snowflake, and you travel however you want to.

I’m going to go blow out my candles, have a shot, and continue to climb my mountain. Just remember as you continue to climb to look around and embrace the view instead of judging how far you have to go still, or how behind you are from the rest of the pack.

Clare

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4 thoughts on “Age—does it really matter?

  1. Pingback: 101 pieces of advice | Live ClareLesley

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