Aspen Untucked: Age is just a number
Last week, I turned 28, and it was pretty damn scary.
Anyone who is under 28 and reads that statement is probably agreeing with me. Those who are over the age are most likely rolling their eyes right now. I suppose, like most things in life, age is entirely relative.
But whether you’re agreeing with me or completely appalled by the first statement in this column, I think we can all understand the feeling of life getting away from us, like things are just going too quickly and we aren’t where we thought we would be at this point in our lives. I, for one, am easily caught up in the past, in the what-ifs and the what-could-have-beens. So when a birthday comes around — a day that is so symbolic of time progressing — I can get stuck in my head. However, on the other side of that, I get downright giddy to enjoy the day of my birth. I like planning a party or some kind of celebration around it, and, admittedly, I enjoy feeling special, like there is a day made just for me. I imagine that many people share these mixed sorts of feelings when it comes to their name day.
I turn one year older every June 1. This year, that date was a Friday. For the big day, I planned activities I enjoy. First, I went on a hike that I’ve never been on before with my two pups. After that, I got my nails done, went to happy hour with a good friend, and then my boyfriend took me out for a nice dinner. That weekend, we went camping for the first time this season. June 1, and the days around it, were wonderful. It felt like a seamless way to glide into 28.
Still, after the fact, I couldn’t help but feel concerned about growing older. Sure, I’ve been wearing 28 for nearly a week now and it feels really no different than 27. But what about next year? And the year after that? And then 10, 20, or even 30 years from now? Am I always going to carry this feeling of impending doom when my age increases ever so slightly?
Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer to that question. But I’m trying to follow the behavior of many of my older friends in Aspen, who always act like — and probably truly believe that — age is just a number. This town is filled with people who accomplish incredible feats, despite the years attached to them. We have 80- and 90-year-olds who are still skiing the slopes or biking the trails everyday. They’re not intimidated by the years that have gone by, in fact, they seem to be inspired by them.
Another thought I had on my birthday that comforted me was that maybe my day isn’t actually about me; it’s about my community and the people I love. On June 1, I get phone calls and texts from friends and family who let me know that they’re thinking about me. Plus, we all have Facebook, which adds a whole new component to birthday wishes. On the day, we get to hear from people who we may barely ever talk with, but who take a second to wish us well. By the end of my day, I wasn’t thinking about how special I am for turning a year older. I was thinking about how thankful I am for all of the wonderful people in my life. I felt fortunate to know them and to be able to wish them a happy birthday when it’s their turn. After all, we may get worried about growing up, but at least we’re all doing it together.
Perhaps the combination of doing what we love and being with those we care about are the best antidotes to getting older. That, and maybe a present or two.
Barbara Platts wishes everyone a happy happy birthday this year and every year. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.