Scars and Wrinkles

The more years I’ve accrued, the more obvious it’s become that I can’t take anything for granted.

My physical capacities, my mentality clarity, the way I look, the things I crave, the activities and inputs that fuel me—all are prone to ebb and amendment and declination.

With time I’ve learned that figuring out how to accomodate my specific pattern of scars and wrinkles is a worthwhile investment, as understanding this fingerprint-like, topographic self-portrait helps me anticipate my future needs, while also making it more likely I’ll notice these foibles and thus be capable of establishing stable footing on the uncertain surfaces I’m treading, today, and those I will traverse in the future.

Sometimes the essential effort is simply allowing myself to accept that something is different, and will remain different, and that I consequently must let go of previous understandings, assumptions, and self-definitions.

In other cases, the primary labor is figuring out how to account for these differences while still moving in a direction I’d like to go; that direction still relevant, the path I walk still important to me, but the mode of transport, the ease of locomotion, the time it takes to get there (and consequences for doing so) a little or dramatically different than before.

I find it’s useful to think about this process as an attempt to gift my future self the resources he’ll need, offering that future-me more freedoms and options by investing in internal and extrinsic assets, today: my health, my relationships, my skills and knowledge, my financial security, and so on.

This is distinct from merely “preparing for the future,” though, in that part of this effort—the heaviest lift, at times—is incorporating an abundance of new data, new realities, and oft-uncomfortable realizations and weaknesses into my intuitive sense of self.

Growing older is partly about growth, and that’s relatively easy to recognize and celebrate.

It’s also about the aging of one’s physical and mental mechanisms, though, and the accumulation of verdigris and rust upon our formerly familiar surfaces.

There’s plenty we can do to make this process less debilitating and inherently lossy, emphasizing that growth and dampening the pummeling impacts of time on our bodies and minds.

But it’s not a passive effort, and simply recognizing that such considerations are necessary can be a struggle (and victory) unto itself.

My new book is about growing older with intention, if you’re interested in reading more about that sort of thing :)

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