I have never been one to worry about my age or complain about growing older. While my body sometimes feels the years, and my face shows the truth of my life experience, my heart and soul, young and vibrant, still view the world with fresh eyes, hopeful and forgiving. I’ve been naïve at times, hurt and pushed to cynicism, but it never lasts for very long. Angry words and harboring bad feelings cannot fool my heart, eventually I let go and give the world another try. At least . . . that’s what I think I do.
Even now as I am closer to sixty than fifty, it’s not age that concerns me, nope. I think more often about the years that remain in my life . . . a number I cannot predict or control. More than ever, I want the years, the days, and every moment to count, to be big, important, and worthwhile. I don’t mean to say that every experience must be beautifully crafted and perfectly planned, complete with inspirational soundtrack, not at all. Instead, I find beauty and perfection in the most unlikely places, in the moments of my mostly ordinary life.
Getting to this place has not been easy. Therapy, yoga, meditation, soul searching and writing, lots and lots of writing, have all played a part in my journey. But the most important ingredient has been the people, my teachers, the supportive and gifted women in my life, and my family. And then there is my grandson, Luca, who helps me see the world through his eyes, brand new and beautiful.
Last week Luca visited and wanted to play Cops and Robbers. I chuckled to myself as this seemed so old- fashioned. I’m not sure at all where he learned the term. He definitely knows all of the critical elements for a successful game, a cop, a robber, a jail and an excellent imagination. Running through the house he squeals as I chase him, no easy task to run and laugh simultaneously. Anticipating capture, he stops in his tracks, catches his breath, puts his hands behind his back and boldly states; put the handcuffs on me Nonna, just pretend. I lock the fake cuffs, making a clicking sound. I walk him toward the mirrored wardrobe, the space we have designated as the jail, and put him inside. In my best tough guy voice I gruffly warn, Stay inside, I’m watching you, and I walk away. Within seconds, he emerges, running as fast as his little legs will carry him, and I chase closely behind. He screams and laughs; his happiness so pure.
We repeat this scenario several times before I add a new element. I manage to quickly hide before Luca escapes the wardrobe. As he flees to freedom I jump into his path, and scare the daylights out of him. Each time I leap from a new hiding place, he shrieks and between the giggling says, let’s do it again Nonna. The next time, we have a long chase. I let him believe I cannot catch him. He runs and runs and I grab at his little shoulders but never quite grab him. He screeches and laughs, and then he slows just enough to look over his shoulder and say, I love you Nonna. I respond, and I love you my Boo.
Still running, out of breath and laughing, we stop short of smacking right into the mirrored wardrobe. I find myself face to face with my reflection, and I am completely surprised by what I see. It’s me . . . but I look younger, happier, and lighter. I actually look more closely and wonder if it’s the lighting in the room. And I then I think . . . so that’s what happiness looks like, that is love’s light shining from the inside out. Looking into the mirror, Luca smiles exposing his jagged little overbite and asks, why are you smiling Nonna? I smile some more, and say because I’m happy.
So . . . these days I do my best to not worry about my remaining years on the planet. It’s a huge waste of time. Instead, I happily exchange my worry for a good game of Cops and Robbers, time with my family and my best girlfriends, and walks on the beach.
Seems my best lessons, come from Luca. Completely unaware of the years that lay ahead, and certainly not concerned about the time that has passed, he only knows to enjoy every minute of each day.
I love that.