Of Merlin wise I learned a song,—
Sing it low or sing it loud,
It is mightier than the strong,
And punishes the proud. I sing it to the surging crowd,—
Good men it will calm and cheer,
Bad men it will chain and cage—
In the heart of the music peals a strain
Which only angels hear;
Whether it waken joy or rage
Hushed myriads hark in vain,
Yet they who hear it shed their age,
And take their youth again.
Ralph Waldo Emerson – first part of his poem “Merlin’s song”
I’ve been thinking a lot about aging lately. For awhile now I’ve been finding myself thinking that I’m much older than I am. A couple of months ago I found myself thinking…. “ahh, soon I will be facing menopause.” I’m turning 35 tomorrow!! Sure it’s possible, but unlikely, that I will be contending with that mysterious milestone early. It doesn’t run in the family.
I keep thinking that I’m at the end of my life, no time for that Masters degree I’ve always wanted, no time for the fit runner’s body and style of living I’ve envisioned for so long. I don’t know why I think this. It’s an automatic, subconscious thing. When I hear it in my head I tell myself… No silly. You’re only 35. Maybe it’s because I got here fast. The last 10 years being quite a blur. Or maybe it’s being a mom, putting my own life on the backburner far too thoroughly. Maybe it’s because of my uncanny ability to sabotage my own career/success/happiness. A dear friend of mine would say, to any question is it this, this or this? with, “Yes.”
Then, last month, as if only to legitimize my delusions about my own ageing, I found several gray hairs at the place where my hairline meets my forehead, front and center. I was in the car, with the family, with the windows rolled down, parked and I literally screamed. I spoke as loud as possible, “I have gray hair!?!?!?!?!?!?!” Then I proceeded to blame them on my husband. “This one right here, this is you. And this one, and this one, all you. This little one right here is the boy, but the rest are you.” In truth, he’s the one person in my life, if there were no others, who saves me, shelters me from the graying aspects of life. It’s just fun to blame him, somehow. Thank goodness he’s a good sport and has learned not to listen to me too carefully.
I thought I had this issue licked a while ago, when I was turning 30 actually. It’s a number. It’s arbitrary, for the most part. It only means something if we ascribe that meaning to it. It lasted a while. 30 I was okay with. 35, jeez, how did 35 happen?