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‘Learning about each tomorrow as it arrives’

One morning a couple weeks ago, I woke up with a crick in my neck, a pain in my back and weariness in my bones. As I stretched to get my muscles moving and some blood flowing, my brain decided to direct my attention to the fact that my youngest child would turn 30 in just a few months. The aging process had apparently snuck up on me.

There had been warning signs. For example, there was the time I tripped over my own two feet when walking out my front door. I landed on the sidewalk in an inglorious splat rather than a youthful bounce. The younger portion of my mind was relieved to observe that no one had witnessed my clumsiness. As I began the process of picking myself up, my maturing self was grateful to realize that if I had needed assistance, a neighbor would have been along shortly.

Going to the movies also reminds me that I’m getting older. My silver-haired husband has been offered the senior discount routinely for several years. I’ve got a few gray strands, am only slightly younger than he is, and am eligible for the discount myself. When he buys our cinema tickets, he likes to boast that he’s dating a senior citizen. He also still tells me I’m pretty.

Apparently, my plan worked out just as Phyllis Diller promised when she said, “Marry a man about your own age — as your beauty fades, so will his eyesight.”

My computer has also joined the ranks of reminding me of how swiftly the years are speeding along. When I purchased my first computer, it featured state-of-the art electronics and boasted an enormous hard drive capable of holding 24 megabytes of information. That’s right: megabytes that can hold 24 million pieces of information. I thought I’d never need anything more. Today, that antiquated hard drive would hold seven — maybe eight — pictures. I’ve got at least a hundred times as many just on my phone.

The computer I currently use has a hard drive measured in gigabytes (billions of pieces of information), and it is no longer a spry youngster. When I turn it on in the morning, the machine awakens slowly. The software programs I use compete with each other for memory allocations, and sometimes tasks perform at such an unhurried pace, I get up from my desk to fetch a cup of coffee while I’m waiting. When I was younger, the thrill of keeping pace with the latest innovations inspired me. I enjoyed researching the newest specifications, reading about processor options and learning how various configurations might make me more efficient. The more youthful version of myself would already have been out shopping for a newer model, but my older self has discovered simple joys in familiar keystrokes and unscheduled pauses.

Then a few days ago, along with the usual collection of advertisements and bills, our mail carrier brought a magazine that bore a colorful banner announcing an article that would help me feel younger. Normally, I wouldn’t have paid much attention, but my curiosity was sufficiently aroused and I immediately turned to the page indicated. One of the top tips was to take up jogging. Reading the suggestion made my knees ache, and it opened my eyes to the realization that I simply wasn’t in a hurry anymore.

Common wisdom suggests that there comes a time in a woman’s life when she stops lying about her age and begins to brag about it. I’m not certain I’ve reached that point yet. I still need to check the date and do the math to make sure I’m not lying. However, I have reached other milestones. Someone once quipped that you know you’re getting old when you discover that the volume knob will also twist to the left. I have grown fond of silence. In alignment with another popular saying, I hope I’m running out of things to learn the hard way. But I am still looking forward to learning about each tomorrow as it arrives, and I plan to continue aging. After all, the options are rather limited.

Karen Bellenir has been writing for The Farmville Herald since 2009. Her book, Happy to Be Here: A Transplant Takes Root in Farmville, Virginia features a compilation of her columns. It is available from PierPress.com. You can contact Karen at kbellenir@PierPress.com or look for her at the Heart of Virginia Festival.