Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changin’ ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Mmm… I don’t know
Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’
‘Cause I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older, too
– “Landslide”, Fleetwood Mac
Forty didn’t bother me. I mean, there was a moment of “whoa, that doesn’t feel right,” and then I rolled right on into just not worrying about it. After all, at forty I was stronger and fitter than I had ever been in my life. Forty-one, forty-two, forty-three…. all good. And now I’m standing and staring down forty-four and I cannot explain quite why this one is staring back at me so ferociously.
Maybe for the first time this year someone asked me when I would become M2.
Maybe I have some grey hairs creeping in at the temples.
Maybe I’m feeling the seasons deeper in my bones than I have before.
Maybe my everything hurts more after training than it did five years ago (of course it could also be that I’m moving more weight than ever before).
And maybe I’m questioning how much longer I have before the clock catches me and the long arms of time and age start pulling me backwards harder than I have the will to resist.
Forty-four seems wrong somehow. An indignity. In my head I’ve been stuck at around 32 for a while and now I’m wondering if I have to let go of that anchor and pick one slightly further up the road. And I just plain don’t want to. I don’t want to be 44. I don’t want a body that hurts more after working hard. I just don’t want to accept that there will be a point at which I stop getting stronger. But I cannot see a way around that. And it terrifies me.
Dear Vicky in April of 2019,
It has been a busy eight months since you wrote those words above. And you have grown in ways that you did not expect, I’ll wager. You’re stronger now, and I’m proud of you. We have always said that any relationship should be able to withstand asking hard questions. This includes your relationship with yourself and you body and sport. Those were tough questions, too. Scary questions. Important questions. And I like how you screamed a bit at the injustice of ageing, cried a few tears, and then stood up to face your doubts and life on your own terms with a new perspective of your choosing.
You learned, I think, that forty-four is really no different than any other age. That forty-five, which is now on the horizon is more or less the same thing. And that your potential has actually increased as you have come to terms with the ways in which you have limited yourself. You have less inclination to waste energy or time on chaff and more inclination to go after what is of meaning to you.
This summer was tough. You were tired and that made you unsure, but you continued to find new ways to control your mind’s sabotaging of your genuine desire to grow. You found a new confidence that I think you have been looking for for some time, an assurance of your strength and ability and worth that comes from deep within and is untouchable by age, the opinions of others, or gravity. Although it kind of sucked at the time, the process of working through that bit of a dip made you unbelievably resilient.
Every time you stood up under a weight that somehow felt heavier than it should have, you said to yourself, “okay, it’s heavy, but I’m strong.” And you moved it. You said that a lot last summer. And kept going.
Every time you heard someone say that time would stop you, you told yourself that your willingness to embrace the struggle and discomfort and to find new ways to recover were what dictated that point. And you worked on.
And every time your shoulders sagged after an exhausting workout, you reminded yourself of all the ways in which you had succeeded in lifting more weight, with better movement, over time. And you shut down negativity through solid progress achieved through hard work.
What I’m the most proud of is that you understood that it was all in your head, and you made that part of you strong enough to be worthy of the bodily strength you continue to build.
Well done. I’ll see you on the other side of forty-five and we will chat again.
Vicky of December 2019
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My 48th birthday is in just a few weeks. In my head, I am still in my late 20’s, or maybe early 30’s, but like you I have felt the same fears and aches that come with aging. I haven’t given too much thought to this coming birthday yet, but I know I will. I don’t really fear the number, so much as the sense that I haven’t been enough.