I am going to approach the idea of aging gracefully as a lifelong endeavor. In fact, I think I will call it "Growing Older, Daily..." as I have worked 51 years so far and I think I want credit for time served.
As a child, I had the luxury of time but my whole goal was to just grow up. Life seemed to start as a teen. No more kids' table. No more naps. No more having to play outside.
As I continued to grow older and the teen years hit, I just wanted all the people who were in the process of growing old, to just leave me alone.
Then growing older in my 20's was just not happening, in this decade of perpetual youth. No one ever gets older. I will always be in my 20's.
I don't even remember my 30's.
The fourth decade was challenging. I learned the most about life that decade. I became strong. I became more self-assured and I began to get a glimpse of life after the craziness. I saw that the world might, at some point, slow down. I began to get a chance to think.
So here I am in my introspective 50s. Now, finally once again, I have brief periods with the luxury of time. The difference is that I want to nap. I want to play outside and I want to sit at the kids' table. At the kids's table, manners are not required. You can make all the noises that you want. You can talk about the family members who do not appear to be growing old gracefully and you can leave without being "excused".
Looking propectively, my understanding of the next decades comes from those who are willing and who choose to share their stories. I look to those of "considerable" years, defined as being exactly 10+ years older than I am on that particular day. I am coming to understand that the blessing of each new year provides insight and there are some very graceful individuals who choose to lead by example.
I avoid any cliches. I do not care to "age like a good bottle of wine". First and foremost, I hope for the privilege to contine to age. I want to see what there is to come.
To grow older gracefully from here, I feel it would be short-sighted to discount the lessons learned. I see the value in being retrospective. I want to look back and I want to remember. I want to hug that child and tell her to slow down and play. I wish to guide that teen from a distance and remember the spunk. I want to grab that feeling of invincibity at 20 and then add to this the tenacity of my 30's. With the fortitude I found 40, I am ready to continue to grow. I have begun to have fun in my fifties, seeing this as a beginning, not a middle. Then with good fortune, I continue this journey. I see extreme joys ahead. I also envision profound sorrows. I value the lessons learned from an exuberant youth. I crave the lessons from my gracious elders. It will be with this ever evolving insight that I hope to continue to grow older with some semblance of grace.