As I quickly approach my 43rd birthday two things begin to happen. Inevitably I begin reflecting, as if I am an 85-year-old Jessica Tandy, on the wonders of my historic life (let me have this one) and second people become fixated with my age.
To be honest, in the gay community we have always been hyper-aware of our ages. It’s like the minute we are born and the doctor smacks us on the ass to be sure we are breathing, he is simultaneously placing a “Best By…” date. (*Side note: maybe this is where the fetish of being spanked begins, on a constant quest to have a later date placed upon our backsides).
The gays have internalized this number issue better than anyone, we use it like a line in the sand, creating sides and nurturing an unconscious bias for war. It rules so many of our lives; the 20s are the golden years, our 30s are the wind down… but still acceptable, get beyond 40 and you can hear the booming voice of Mufasa from The Lion King, “That’s beyond our borders, you must NEVER go there!”
Well I’m there, an explorer in the shadowlands, and I see so many amazing things. I am surrounded by ghostly figures just like me and you know what? I can definitely get down with them!
I’ve learned a lot over my 42nd year and I try to constantly grow and appreciate my journey as I discover it. Looking back over time I realize that I have never felt my age, not my chronological one at least. I believe this is a natural state of mind for humans. One moment I feel 24 and living loud and the next moment I am 112 and embracing my “wisdom.” Let’s face it, this number is arbitrarily given by some agreed upon rule that we weren’t even there to vote on. It was meant for scientific purposes and yet we have affixed a million and one meanings and boundaries to a ridiculous integer. I am struck by this concept of the “agreed upon rule.”
Well, what if I don’t agree with it? The old cliché is true, “age is just a number.” An assigned number tells me absolutely nothing about myself or anyone else. The way I see it, we are all just the effects of our individual journeys. That’s why someone can be “56” and act “22.” It’s why I can connect with my best friend who is 20 years younger than I am and can find someone my own age absolutely annoying.
It has nothing to do with the number. I am drawn to those I connect with, those whose experiences have led them to a similar place of consciousness. As I look at my friends, they range across the chronological scale and I feel just as close to those younger as to those older.
The other lesson I have learned is that everything is a choice. From where I buy my coffee to how I allow the world to make me feel. The sad truth is there are those bitter queens who choose to wage war within the boundaries of age. They hail from either side of the scale and they will always exist. I have no time for them. The choice I make is to put my energy elsewhere. If the fairies can only live if I pay attention to them and clap my hands as Peter Pan taught us, then I guess I’ll place my attention elsewhere. I choose to celebrate what I am and who I am, to live my life without limits and accepted insecurities.
As I have advanced on my journey I have relaxed a lot and reveled in the joy of human connection. I’ve danced with bears, surrendered to the joys of sex, accepted my body daily as it is now, and embraced the power of choice. If the world is what we make it, I want mine surrounded by love and celebration. I want to choose to be limitless. Now THAT is a gift I give to myself as I move along in my path. I’ll take any day where I can celebrate me!
Queer Forty celebrates everything I hold dear. It helps drive me forward with new ideas and inspirations, and it shows me that what I believe is true. Age is but a number and this journey is far from over, in fact it’s only just beginning! Keep reading this site and be sure to follow their new Facebook Page too.
As I approach my birthday I am reminded of the poet Samuel Ullman’s poem, Youth;
“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”
My soul is ageless, what about yours?