I don’t have anything major or pressing to write about today but I figured I would write about something that I noticed and talked to a friend about yesterday. So life thus far has been good– I’m trying to keep a lot of things balanced and moving forward. Financially, I try to balance eating out and making meals for myself. Physically, I try to go on runs here and there and actually just realized that they do free yoga in Golden Gate Park on Saturdays so am excited to start doing that too.
I’m a pretty naturally thin person but I have noticed that lately my body has not been as taut as usual. Some of it is probably the fact that I’m getting older. It’s a known thing that metabolism slows down as you age and I’m assuming I’m getting to that point where stuff just settles differently. Some of it, admittedly, is diet. I have really been getting into soups lately and many recipes call for a lot of cream. Add to that eating out, like the pub food I inhaled last night. So in addition to biology, there’s the choices that we make every day that impact our health in addition to our beauty.
I know I’m not saying anything new or unknown. We all know that we should eat right, exercise, be cautious about alcohol and other bodily contaminants. But I also think that as you get into your 30s and later, you start hearing the extreme stories of crazy health issues that cropped up in the lives of those who never saw it coming. My friend recently told me that within a week, he had heard of stories of a couple of seemingly healthy late 20s/early 30s friends and acquaintances pass away unexpectedly (and not from an accident like an auto accident). In grad school, one student’s wife (late 20s) was diagnosed with breast cancer. A few years ago, a former colleague learned he had a brain tumor around the same time that his second child was born. And recently, it was disclosed that a colleague, I think in his mid 20s, was diagnosed with cancer as well.
This post isn’t meant to be a scare tactic and I realize that it’s a big jump to start the post about carrying some extra weight and segueing into cancer. But I guess my point is, your 20s are blissful and most of us live in this bacchanalian state of drinking and eating crap, getting no sleep and living on fumes. And I think that’s ok– there’s a time and a place for everything and why not do it when your body is strong enough to withstand it all?
But I also do think my friends and I are moving into the phase of our lives where it’s not nearly so easy. We see the bulges on our bodies, the wrinkles and age spots on our faces and the aches and pains of aging and we realize: ok, shit, I gotta do something different. And then we hear the stories of our people from our cohorts experiencing the unimaginable and it’s a huge wakeup call.
Incidentally– something happens in your late 20s where it seems like everywhere you turn, someone has cancer. When I was around 26 or 27, there was a period where my dad and grandma had cancer and when I opened up and talked to people, I realized that every other person seemed to have a mom, a dad, a close relative who had been touched by it as well. And then you get older and the danger has creeped closer when someone like you, exactly like you in age and lifestyle, is struggling with major illness and you realize the invincibility of youth is no match to nature and biology. It’s so effing scary.
And for anyone who is young and reading this: go do what you need to do to live a fulfilled life but if you can get a headstart on building good and healthy habits in the meantime, definitely do that. (I would start by wearing sunscreen everyday. It’s the biggest regret from my 20s.)
I don’t think this post is sad. But I think it’s truthful and I think it’s universal. I recently had a talk with my facialist who was in her 40s and had beautiful skin and we talked about the challenges of aging. She said that she felt better in her 40s than she ever had– that she felt that things did get better. And I agreed that my 30s were less volatile than my 20s and therefore better in many ways. We talked about how things realistically are tougher as you age. But we also concluded that anytime people are faced with challenges, the progressive human response is to make changes to ensure the likelihood of success. We talked about how the challenges of aging have pushed us to be more focused and to prioritize on things that make a difference, like diet, lifestyle choices and things like that. And with priorities comes focus and more simplicity which is a happy improvement.
I liked this analysis and conclusion and I think it’s how I would end this blog post. That it– life– gets harder as you get older. But for that reason, you get smarter, you get stronger in your resolve and how you go about making choices. And with this work comes the outcomes that, though easier before, are harder earned and therefore more meaningful later.
Happy President’s Day weekend!